A.S. Watson Group
We Bring More To Life
|Industry||Retail, Health & Beauty and Manufacturing|
|Headquarters||Hong Kong, China|
|Number of locations||11,000+ stores Worldwide|
|Key people||Sir Li Ka-Shing (Chairman) Domonic Lai (Group Managing Director)|
|Products||Health, Beauty & Lifestyle Brands|
The A.S. Watson Group (or A.S. Watson or ASW) is the largest health and beauty retail group in Hong Kong, with over 11,000 stores in 33 markets worldwide serving over 27 million customers per week.
The group operates the world's largest portfolio of retail formats, retail brands and has the largest geographical presence, and the company is a wholly owned subsidiary of the renowned multinational Conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.
A.S. Watson was founded in 1828 as a small dispensary, with the mission in mind to provide free medical services, to the poor people of the Southern Chinese province of Guangdong (also known as Canton). This was the first foundation of the A.S. Watson Group. But the A.S Watson name didn't become prominent with the company until 1862, after Dr. Alexander Skirving Watson joined the company in 1858. In 1869 the Hong Kong Dispensary (as the company was known then) was appointed to dispense to the Governor of Hong Kong and the Duke of Edinburgh. 1871 was the year that the company was officially traded under the name A.S Watson & Company.
By 1886 the company had constructed its first factory on Stanley Street, Hong Kong, and had become a Limited company and also completing its first expansion further into China and to the Philippines. By 1895 the company was operating 35 stores and was producing 300 dispensary, toiletry and perfumery lines.
In 1903 Watson's water was established; this enabled the company to provide pure water to the people of Hong Kong and Mainland China. 1937 saw the Japanese invasion of China and A.S Watson halted all operations in Mainland China. In 1941 A.S Watson celebrated its centenary just months before the Japanese attack and the fall of Hong Hong. A.S Watson eventually resumed business on September 1, 1945.
The Hutchison Group acquired a controlling interest in A.S Watson & Co. Ltd in 1963.
1972 saw A.S Watson acquire PARKnSHOP supermarkets from Y.K Lau, then in 1973 acquired Peter Pan Toy Shops and launched Mountain Cream, Ice-cream products.
1981 saw Hutchison Whampoa limited take full control of A.S Watson becoming a wholly owned subsidiary.
At the end of the 1980s the company grew rapidly by entering Taiwan in 1987, Macau and Singapore in 1988, and re-opening in China in 1989, all under the name Watsons' The Chemist.
FORTRESS joined the A.S Watson Group in 1990. 1994 saw the company open a new water factory in Beijing and further expand Watson's The Chemist to Malaysia, by 1996 Watson's The Chemist had entered Thailand and in 1997 A.S Watson Group had acquired Shanghai Sparkling Drinking Water. 1998 saw FORTRESS open its first store in Taiwan and Watson's Wine opened in Hong Kong. 1998 also saw Nuance-Watson's retail stores open at Hong Kong International Airport. A.S Watson's water operations also expanded in 1998, but this time into Europe, through acquisitions. In 1999 A.S Watson sold its Ice Cream businesses in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong to the Unilever Group.
In the year 2000 A.S Watson entered the United Kingdom with the acquisition of Savers Health & Beauty and in 2001 expanded its wine business with the acquisition of Badaracco SA.
2002 saw A.S Watson expand into Europe and the UK even further with the acquisition of the Kruidvat Group, adding a number of different brands to its portfolio, including Superdrug in the UK and ICI Paris XL and Kruidvat itself in Mainland Europe.
During 2003 A.S Watson signed an agreement to sell its European water operations to Nestlé, Superdrug opened its first new identity store in the Bullring Shopping Centre in Birmingham UK. There were new store openings for Watson's (Your Personal Store) as the company launched its third generation store, Watson's Water celebrated its centennial anniversary and launched its "Year of Hong Kong Creativity". FORTRESS launched a new identity in Hong Kong and Nuance-Watson opened Duty Free stores at Hong Kong International Airport.
Drogas Health and Beauty Retail Chain was acquired by A.S Watson in 2004, taking the group into the Baltics, Watson's also acquired Apex Pharmacy Sdn Bhd in Malaysia. The Group purchased a 40% stake in Rossmann, Germany adding 786 stores to the groups portfolio. TASTE food galleria launched in November 2004 and Watson's Wine launched a new concept store in Hong Kong.
2005 was another busy year for A.S Watson as the Group Celebrated the opening of its 100th store in Mainland China and its 300th store in Taiwan. The Group entered Turkey with the acquisition of Cosmo Shop and the first Watson's Health and Beauty Store opened in Korea. 2005 also saw two major acquisitions in Europe with Marionnaud and The Perfume Shop. October 2005 saw the acquisition of Spektr, launching A.S Watson in the Russian Market.
2006 saw Watson's (Your Personal Store) open in Indonesia and Wastson's celebrated its 200th store opening in June. A.S Watson entered the Ukraine through the acquisition of DC, and Marionnaud expanded into Asia with its first store opening in the Philippines in September.
PARKnSHOP launched it MoneyBack loyalty programme in 2007, and new store concepts were rolled out through 2007 across brands in Europe and Asia.
2008 marked 180 years of A.S Watson and Watson's launched its loyalty programme in Asia, whilst Watson's Wine celebrated 10 years of serving the wine lovers of Hong Kong. Marionnaud launched its first own brand skin care range and the group took part in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Tourch Relay.
Rossmann celebrated its 2,000th store milestone in 2009, while Watson's Your Personal Store opened its 500th store in Mainland China. COOL bottled water was revamped and re-branded to refresh its image.
During 2010 Watson's card membership was reaching the 15 million mark.
2011 saw DC Ukraine re-branded as Watson's and Watson's China opened its 1000th store, whilst Superdrug launched a new store format in London, directed more at the fast paced fashion market rather than trying to compete with competitors.
A.S. Watson Group Brands
Health and Beauty
Luxury Perfumeries & Cosmetics
Food, Electronics & Wine
- Watson's Wine
- Watson's Water
- Mr. Juicy