|APR CEO Kim Byung-hoon poses beside the firm's slogan, "Let's Grow Together," before an interview at the company headquarters in Lotte World Tower in Seoul, Sept. 15. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Company to secure post-IPO valuation of up to 2 trillion won
By Lee Min-hyung
APR will double down on securing more advanced technologies until the Seoul-based beauty device, cosmetics and sports apparel manufacturer rises to global fame and starts to be perceived as the next Apple or Tesla in the burgeoning beauty tech industry, the firm's founder and CEO Kim Byung-hoon said in a recent interview.
APR is one of the hottest beauty firms, with its corporate value forecast to soar to as high as 2 trillion won ($1.5 billion) after its planned initial public offering (IPO). The company is scheduled to request a preliminary examination for its listing here sometime before the end of October. APR achieved the feat in less than a decade after the company was established in 2014.
Kim, 34, founded APR's predecessor April Skin in October of the same year, after taking a leave of absence from university. He felt a strong attraction towards the beauty industry, as it features specific customer tastes and is suited to online marketing, according to him.
The company is on track to solidify its brand identity as a tech-savvy beauty product maker. APR operates diverse beauty-related businesses, but investors and customers pay particular attention to the rapid rise of its beauty devices. APR's representative sub-brands include the device manufacturing arm medicube and fashion brand Nerdy.
Following Nerdy becoming a global sensation with young consumers, APR is now gearing up to open a second chapter of global expansion with its state-of-the-art beauty tech devices. The leader of the company also displayed his ambition of gradually increasing fandom for its products based on robust overseas sales growth. APR generates around 30 percent of its beauty device sales from territories outside Korea.
"Sales for our beauty devices are surging each year particularly in major economic powerhouses such as the United States, China and Japan," Kim said. "We sold more than 600,000 beauty devices in 2022. The pace of overseas sales is on a sharp rise. The figure for the first half of 2023 has reached 500,000."
|APR's medicube AGE-R beauty device lineup / Courtesy of APR|
Kim said the U.S. played a particular role as its major revenue generator after global influencers, including pop star Justin Bieber and his wife Hailey Bieber were seen using one of the firm's devices on TikTok.
China and Japan are APR's key overseas markets.
"China is still considered a blue ocean for beauty device industry players," he said. "Not only is the size of the market big enough, but there are also no influential market players there. We sold 10,000 devices almost immediately after starting sales through a live broadcast on China's social network, Kuaishou, in July. Our goal in the world's second-largest economy is to generate gradual sales growth there."
The rise of K-beauty products also helped the company make more profits in the Japanese market.
"We have achieved accumulated beauty device sales of 150,000 there, and the country accounts for a significant portion of our overseas revenue," he said. "Jumping on the growing popularity of Korean beauty products, APR aims to expand its footing there."
Aside from the three major overseas markets, APR is diversifying its sales channels in other Asian countries, such as Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Vietnam.
|APR CEO Kim Byung-hoon poses in front of a promotional image for the firm's beauty products at its headquarters in Lotte World Tower in Seoul, Sept. 15. Korea Times photo by Choi Won-suk|
Kim said the global popularity of K-pop played a crucial role in driving the overall growth of Korean beauty-related products in the Asian as well as U.S. markets.
"Beauty devices are equipped with cutting-edge technologies that have never been used before," he said. "More and more demanding customers here and abroad appear to be satisfied with our technological excellence."
Kim also shared the firm's end goal of becoming the beauty version of Apple and Tesla.
"The two companies secure unwavering global fandom due to their technological expertise. They launch innovative products whose backbone is technology. We also aim to pursue a similar strategy and set a successful example in the global beauty tech industry."
Last year, APR reported sales of 397.7 billion won, up 53.5 percent from the previous year. Of particular note is its overseas sales growth. Its operating profit also surged to 39.3 billion won from 14.3 billion won during the same period on remarkable sales growth of AGE-R-branded beauty devices here and abroad.