Oasis founder returns to board amid challenges from Chinese rivals

2024.04.03 11:36:01 | 2024.04.03 11:39:02

[Courtesy of Oasis Corp.]이미지 확대

[Courtesy of Oasis Corp.]

Kim Young-jun, the founder of Oasis Corp., operator of South Korea’s fresh food delivery platform Oasis Market, has returned to the company’s boardroom.

Kim’s comeback comes at a time when Chinese e-commerce giant AliExpress is making aggressive inroads into the Korean fresh food market, prompting a rallying call among local retail magnates to bolster their defenses by taking a more hands-on approach in their businesses.

During a recent shareholders’ meeting, Oasis Market confirmed the reappointment of Kim as an inside director, marking a significant shift in the company’s executive landscape.

Kim, who initially steered a cooperative focused on agricultural distribution since 2009 before founding Oasis Market in 2011, has been instrumental in revolutionizing the farm-to-table concept by establishing a direct distribution channel that benefits both producers and consumers.

Furthermore, the acquisition of Gaeasoft in 2011 under his guidance was a strategic move to enhance the group’s IT capabilities, underscoring the integration of technology with agricultural distribution.

Oasis Market has distinguished itself in the e-commerce space, particularly in the fresh food segment, by consistently reporting profits ? a rare feat in the industry.

Financial reports reveal that the company has maintained a profitable streak since its first book disclosure in 2016, with last year’s revenue hitting 475.4 billion won ($352 million), up 11 percent from the previous year, and operating income tripling to 12.7 billion won.

Kim stepped down from his dual roles as CEO and inside director in 2022, paving the way for the company’s CFO to assume the CEO position.

The move was primarily to navigate the regulatory landscape in preparation for the company’s IPO, addressing potential conflicts of interest as mandated by the Korea Exchange’s regulations.

Despite stepping back, Kim continued to contribute to Oasis Market’s technological advancement through the development of the logistics solution, Oasis Route, at Gaea Soft.

The timing of Kim’s return is widely interpreted as a strategic countermeasure to the expanding presence of AliExpress and other Chinese e-commerce platforms like Temu, which are venturing into the Korean market with robust fresh food delivery services and plans for logistics infrastructure development.

Industry observers speculate that Kim’s comeback is not only a response to this foreign competition but also an initiative to further leverage his IT expertise to enhance Oasis Market’s competitive edge in a rapidly evolving retail landscape.

The resurgence of the founder taking an active leadership role is not unique to Oasis Market. Musinsa, a leading fashion e-commerce platform, recently welcomed back its founder Cho Man-ho as the executive chairman. This also comes amid growing competition from Chinese e-commerce entities like Ali, Temu, and Shein.

By Park Chang-young and Minu Kim

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