S. Korean e-commerce firm Coupang seeks to hire senior execs in S'pore in first foray overseas

Coupang raised $6.1 billion in its initial public offering in March on the New York Stock Exchange. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - E-commerce giant Coupang, which has been called South Korea's Amazon, is looking to hire senior executives in Singapore, as part of its first foray overseas.

The company's LinkedIn page shows recently listed job openings for roles such as head of operations, head of retail and head of logistics in Singapore.

These positions were also posted on the Coupang Rocket Your Career website.

A company spokesman confirmed the positions listed but declined to comment further.

Last week, The Korea Economic Daily newspaper reported that Coupang, which is listed on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE), will be expanding globally by entering the Singapore market.

This will be its first overseas venture in its 11 years of operation.

The newspaper added: "The company since last month has been recruiting hundreds of employees in Singapore, from entry-level to executive positions across various functions including logistics, marketing, sales, payment, artificial intelligence and product sourcing."

Coupang raised US$4.6 billion (S$6.1 billion) in its initial public offering in March on the NYSE.

It was reported then that Coupang's founder Kim Bom Suk said the primary motive for listing in the United States was to "compete against Amazon and Alibaba".

This expansion means that Coupang will be joining a host of other big e-commerce players here, including Sea's subsidiary Shopee, Alibaba-backed Lazada, Amazon, and Qoo10, which was founded by a South Korean entrepreneur together with eBay.

It might also be a springboard for the firm to enter the South-east Asian market, the newspaper said.

The region has a population of around 650 million people, with increasing digital penetration.

The region's e-commerce spending hit US$62 billion last year, up 63 per cent from 2019, according to a 2020 report co-published by Google, Temasek and Bain & Company.

The newspaper cited e-commerce insiders as saying Coupang chose Singapore to provide a test-bed for the company's digital logistics business, which is optimised for densely populated areas.

The company boasts a same-day "rocket delivery" service, through setting up a comprehensive digital logistics system and distribution centres located close to metropolitan areas.

One of Coupang's local investors here is Singapore Press Holdings (SPH). The firm invested US$3.9 million indirectly in Coupang in 2014 through a special purpose vehicle.

In February, SPH chief of digital business Julian Tan said the Coupang investment was made with the view that the e-commerce model is highly disruptive.

"We already saw e-commerce as the future. If you look at our strategy at that time, not only did we go into Coupang, but we invested in Qoo10 as well," he said.

Coupang's shares closed at US$45.90 last Friday (April 16).

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