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Superdrug Stores PLC
Type Subsidiary of A.S. Watson Group
Industry Retail
Founded 1964 by Ronald & Peter Goldstein
Number of locations 800+
Key people Dominic Lai (A.S. Watson Group Managing Director)
Peter MacNab (Managing Director)
Products B. -Skin Care & Make Up
Solait -Suncare & Bronzing
Arora -Indulgent Bathing
Services Prescriptions, Health Checks, Threading, Lazer Hair Removal & Botox
Revenue £1.01 billion (2013)
Net income Pre-tax profit of £29m (2013)
Owners A.S. Watson Group
Employees 12,000+
Parent Hutchison Whampoa

Superdrug Stores PLC (trading as Superdrug) is Britain's second largest beauty and health retailer behind Boots. Superdrug – part of the A.S. Watson Group which in turn is part of the Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa – is a UK-based company with over 850 stores, which since 2006, includes Ireland. The company has two large Distribution Centres, one in Pontefract and one in Dunstable. Both Distribution Centres serve Superdrug, Savers, and The Perfume Shop. The chain employs over 12,000 people. Every store sells perfume, and over 220 stores include pharmacies with pharmacy consultation rooms. Additionally 19 stores contain nurse clinics offering health checks to many people every day.


Superdrug in the Horsefair Centre, Wetherby, West Yorkshire.


In 1964, Superdrug was incorporated under the name of ′Leading Supermarkets Limited′ by the Goldstein brothers in London, both of whom had experience working in the grocery retail industry. Later that year the business adopted the present name. The first official Superdrug Store opened in Putney, London on 26 April 1966. By 1968 there was a total of three stores trading, Putney, Croydon and Streatham, also in the same year Superdrug acquired its first distribution centre, which was situated in Wimbledon.

The chain grew rapidly and expanded to a chain of 40 stores by the early 1970s and in 1971, The Rite Aid Corporation, an American drugstore chain, acquired 49% of the business.

In 1981, there were 300 Superdrug stores in the United Kingdom and they opened their 11,148 m² (120,000 ft²) distribution centre and office complex at Beddington Lane in Croydon. This particular distribution centre closed in July 2007 and the southern distribution operation moved to Dunstable, although the head office remains in Croydon. The northern distribution operates from Pontefract.

In 1983 the business was floated on London's Unlisted Securities Market stock market.[1]

In 1987, Superdrug was sold to Woolworth Holdings (now known as Kingfisher plc) for £57 million.[1] This allowed accelerated growth of the brand through utilization of Kingfisher's surplus high street property portfolio and substantial financial assets. In this year Superdrug acquired Tip-Top, a discount drugstore chain which had a large presence in the north of England and Scotland, and Share Drug Stores plc, a southern based chain. These acquisitions and a continually aggressive expansion programme saw the chain grow to 600 outlets throughout the UK.

Superdrug continued to grow over the next 8 years increasing profitability and market share. In 1995, the company began a rebranding programme which saw it leave behind its discount heritage and move upmarket, with a new corporate identity – under the banner "the real beauty is the price" – and new larger stores in prime retail locations.

This led to a marked increase in prices in order to fund a higher cost base. This left the chain vulnerable to attack from new discount chains such as Savers and Wilkinson, who were rapidly expanding at the time and the supermarkets such as Tesco and Asda who were growing their presence in the high margin non-food sector.

Facing increasing pressure from supermarkets and new discount chains Superdrug was sold to Kruidvat, a drugstore operator from continental Europe to allow Kingfisher to focus on its DIY and electrical chains.

2002 – present[edit]

Kruidvat was subsequently sold to AS Watson, the retail and manufacturing business of the Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa in 2002. AS Watson are also the parent company of Savers, the UK's number three drugstore chain.

Superdrug (now closed) on Oxford Street

As part of the rebrand, a store-by-store review was conducted of both Superdrug and Savers stores. As a result, several of Superdrug's smaller stores were converted into Savers, and approximately 200 Savers stores were converted into branches of Superdrug.

In 2006, Superdrug entered the Republic of Ireland, and began rolling out its "next generation" stores, the first of which opened in Uxbridge. These focussed on cosmetics and fragrance above all else, and used plasma screens throughout the store. Superdrug announced their intention to create 150 more next generation stores in 2008.[2]

In February 2010 Superdrug became a BUAV approved retailer,[3] joining several other high street chains in pledging its own brand products will be free from animal testing. This does not however cover products made by other brands sold in store.

Products in Europe not tested on animals carry this symbol.

Superdrug was a leading lobbyist in a 10-month campaign lobbying the UK Government to lower VAT on Condoms, the campaign was successful, resulting in VAT being lowered from 17.5% to 5% on condoms in 2006.[4]

Superdrug also signed up to the Governments skills pledge, to ensure that all the young people who work for the Company, have received the necessary vocational and educational skills through a modern apperenticeships scheme, Superdrug aims to provide this throughout its unique Team Academy Programme.[4]

In October 2010, Superdrug launched their first television advertising campaign for 10 years in a bid for customers to rediscover the brand in time for Christmas.[5]

During 2010 Superdrug, went into partnership with sister company The Perfume Shop by trialing shop in shop concessions. The partnership was trialied in 11 Superdrug Stores, including; Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Bury, Glasgow, Westfield London and Kensington High Street.[6]

On 12 August 2010, Superdrug announced it was launching an Overnight Miracle serum. The Swiss Apple formula is part of Superdrug's own label range, Optimum. The formula originally only available in high end beauty ranges, ranging from £122 to £225. Superdrug's version contains the same ingredients as the more expensive ranges and will cost just £9.99 when first launched and will rise to £14.99 in October.[7]

In October 2010, Superdrug launched their first Television advertising campaign for 10 years. On 3 September 2010 Superdrug, announced they had signed a deal with Joanna Page the star of Gavin & Stacey, to make her the face of Superdrug. The campaign will be brand focused and not just about the products, and ran from 1 October through, and into 2011 with Christmas variations.[8]

On 2 March 2011 Superdrug came 4th in consumer poll carried out by Verdict Research. Superdrug came in the top five UK retailers according to the survey carried out on more than 6000 consumers, naming Superdrug the best for Personal Care. The top spot was taken by Department Store John Lewis, closely followed by Ikea and Waitrose.[9]

During 2012 Superdrug went into partnership with Pro Skin Clinics, which has enabled Superdrug to offer specialist skincare clinics in-store. Treatments on offer range from laser hair removal to facials. Superdrug planned to have 50 Clinics by the end of 2013 starting with High Street Kensington and Oxford Street stores and then concentrating on recently refurbished stores. The premium treatments easily fit in with Superdrug's value-led pricing, as treatments are charged at competitive prices.[10]

On 23 July 2012 it was announced that Superdrug, had made it into the Top Five of the Non-food retail category in the Institute of Customer Service's, UK Customer Satisfaction Index (UKCSI). Superdrug scored 84.8 to put it in good company with the likes of John Lewis, and Amazon [11]

Take Another Look[edit]

On 1 October 2010, the Take Another Look campaign was launched by Superdrug to encourage customers to "Take Another Look" at the company. The idea of the campaign is to prove that the company has changed. The campaign includes the company's first television advert for 10 years, fronted by the new face of Superdrug, Joanna Page, star of Gavin and Stacey. There will also be radio adverts and also in store to create maximum effect in order for the campaign to be a success. This brings in line the company's aim to be the best in everyday accessible beauty.[12]

Superdrug is to make 2011 all about its customer, after announcing sales were up 1.7% in the four weeks to 1 January 2011. Superdrug will launch its first loyalty programme on 11 May 2011, in a bid to get to know their customer better and reward their customers for their loyalty. The card scheme will enable customers to earn and redeem points online and in-store. This brings the company in line with other AS Watson companies who also have their own loyalty cards, which boasts 35 million members world wide.[13]

Superdrug are launching a new store format on 25 March 2011. As part of the 'Take Another Look' campaign, this is to help cement Superdrug as the Best in Everyday Accessible Beauty. The New look store is situated in the Centre Court Shopping Centre in Wimbledon. The store has been sectioned into different zones and designed by Dalziel+Pow. Ten further locations will see the new format by the end of April 2011, and others will follow by the end of the year.[14]

In 2011, Superdrug and its sister company The Perfume Shop will strengthen their ties even further by expanding on their shop-in-shop format. 11 shop in shop formats were launched last year, and in 2011 50 more locations will be added to the scheme. The trail proved such a huge success for both companies, raising awareness of both companies and attracting new customers. Also as Superdrug launches its Beauty Card in May, The Perfume Shop will follow suit and also launch their own loyalty scheme, also in the form of points card. Both card schemes will be linked, possibly allowing customers to earn and spend points in both stores, but no formal details have been released yet.[15]

On 25 March 2011, Superdrug launched a new concept store in the Centre Court Shopping Centre, Wimbledon. The new concept store designed by Dalziel & Pow takes its format straight from the fast-paced fashion market, reflecting trends and High-street fashion rather than trying to compete with competitors. The store is modern, fresh and lively,according to Steve Jebson, Superdrug's Commercial Director. The store has been sectioned into different zones: Make Up, Skin Care, Beauty, Hair, Mens, Everyday, Food and Health. The pharmacy has been made over to include a consultation room for more privacy for patients.[16]

That Superdrug Feeling[edit]

On 7 February 2013, Superdrug launched a new marketing and advertising campaign. "That Superdrug Feeling" features actual Superdrug Staff from their stores. This is a complete change in direction from the "Take Another Look" campaign and no longer features Gavin & Stacey star Joanna Page. The campaign targets seasonal promotions such as Valentine's Day, Mother's Day and Christmas, and focuses on the offers available at the time and customer service.[17]

As Part of the next phase of the "That Superdrug Feeling" campaign Superdrug have launched a nationwde search for up to 15 real customers to star in their next set of TV Commercials. Customers are being encouraged to send in a short video of them selves, doing their best " Superdrug Feeling" dance.[18]

During 2013 Superdrug went into partnership with a new TV channel. TLC launched on Sky, Virgin Media and BT Vision on 30 April 2013. The partnership sees full integration of both brands across the TLC Channel, both Web Site's, social media, off air marketing, in-store events, and promotion through Superdrug's Dare Magazine. It sees Superdrug on-air coverage sponsoring over 720 hours of programming on the channel each month and also cover's on-demand services. Both are looking at further integration through product placement opportunities. Matt Walburn, Superdrug's Marketing Director said "TLC has a fun interactive entertainment ethos, which is the perfect fit for our advertising campaign, 'That Superdrug Feeling’".[19]

The Beautycard[edit]

On 11 May 2011, Superdrug launched their first reward card called, The Beautycard. The card has been launched as part of the 'Take Another Look' campaign, which has been at the heart of the companies marketing strategy since October 2010. Just two weeks after the launch of the Beautycard, the company launched its new television advertising campaign to promote the Beautycard, featuring the tales of Brand Ambassador Joanna Page star of Gavin and Stacey. And on 27 May 2011 Superdrug announced they had signed up 1 million customers to its loyalty card scheme.[20]

Dare Magazine[edit]

Superdrug's Dare Magazine underwent a major makeover, to bring it in line with the companies "Take Another Look" Campaign. The Magazine is distributed in-store and on the street's of London for free. On 10 February 2011, Superdrug announced that the magazine would be the first UK customer magazine to use digital watermarking technology. Readers will be able to use their smartphone to view interactive video content and access exclusive news and tips by scanning digital watermarks embedded in the magazine.[21]


During 2013 Superdrug ventured into the Premium Skin Care market, by launching a new and exclusive brand called B. The idea behind the range is that it has a different approach to beauty, rather than concentrating on age, it concentrates on skin type. The brand offers both Skin Care and Make-up and states the tag-line, B. is for beautiful. The range has a stand alone web site and also social media networking sites to enable the growth of the range. The range was launched during January and February 2013, and was accompanied by a multi-million pound advertising campaign, which included TV advertising, magazine promotion, blogger reviews and a pop up tour around the UK's largest shopping centre's.[22]


In December 2007, Superdrug was forced to withdraw a women's punch bag following complaints from anti-domestic violence campaigners. The man shaped product encouraged women to insert a photo of a male in the punch bag's face and had an arrow pointing at the groin stating – "kick him here".

The ManKind Initiative said it was disgraceful that a national retailer like Superdrug should be openly selling products encouraging domestic violence against men. Following the complaints the retailer withdrew the product immediately and promised to donate any profits from sales of the item to domestic violence charity The ManKind Initiative.[23][24]

Marketing initiatives[edit]

Recently, Superdrug have undergone a huge experiential marketing campaign, holding product demonstrations throughout their stores. This campaign commenced after research proved that 89% of shoppers want to try something before they buy it and over 80% who take part in such demonstrations either make a purchase, or consider making a purchase after participating. Bourjois, Aveeno and L'Oréal products have all been demonstrated in this way.[25]

The Beautiful Moments Tour[edit]

From 15 February 2013, Superdrug will embark on a tour of seven of the UK's largest shopping centre's. Starting at the Metrocentre in Newcastle, the pop up beauty marketing tour is to promote Superdrug's new premium skin care range B. According to Matt Walburn, Superdrug's Marketing Director said he wants customers to experience the skin care and make up range for themselves, and that this was an innovative approach for customers to take time and test the range, and for Superdrug to get a real understanding of customers needs. The tour put together by The Marketing Store is to run until 31 March.[26]

Awards and acclaims[edit]


  • Top 5 Non-food retailer in the Customer Satisfaction Index [27]


  • UK's Best for Personal Care (Verdict Research)[9]
  • A Top Five UK Retailer (Verdict Research)


  • Best Value Health & Beauty Store (Prima Magazine UK)


  • Best Pharmacy of the Year Award - Top Santé Health & Beauty Awards (Top Santé Magazine UK)


  1. ^ a b "Superdrug History". Retrieved 2008-09-01. 
  2. ^ RetailWatch (July 2007). "Superdrug rolls out the next generation". 
  3. ^ BUAV (19 February 2010). "Superdrug becomes BUAV approved". Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  4. ^ a b "AS Watson: Superdrug". AS Watson. 2009. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  5. ^ Jennifer Creevy (30 July 2010). "Superdrug plans Christmas ad campaign to win back shoppers". RetailWeek. Emap Ltd. Retrieved 31 July 2010. 
  6. ^ "The Perfume Shop to trial Superdrug tie-up". Retrieved 12 October 2010. [dead link]
  7. ^ Ellicott, Claire (12 August 2010). "£9.99 elixir of youth: Superdrug's version of 'miracle' skin cream that sells for up to £225". (London). Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Superdrug signs up Gavin & Stacey star Joanna Page to front ads". Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  9. ^ a b "John Lewis still top of the shops". 2011-03-02. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  10. ^ Holland, Tiffany (2012-02-24). "Superdrug launches advanced skincare clinics". Retail Week. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  11. ^ "UK Customer Satisfaction Index July 2012: Best performing organisations". Institute of Customer Service. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  12. ^ "Superdrug makes TV comeback with a new ad". Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  13. ^ Baker, Rosie. "Superdrug takes on Boots with loyalty | News". Marketing Week. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  14. ^ Creevy, Jennifer (2011-03-11). "Superdrug launches new shopfit as part of ‘take another look’ strategy | News". Retail Week. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  15. ^ "Perfume Shop expands shop-in-shops | News". Retail Week. 2011-03-18. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  16. ^ "Dalziel and Pow - News - New Superdrug format launches in Wimbledon". Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  17. ^ "Superdrug set to run new ad campaign featuring real staff from its stores". The Drum. 2013-01-17. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  18. ^ "Superdrug looks for real customers to star in its national ad campaign 'That Superdrug Feeling'". The Drum. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  19. ^ Chloe Smith (2013-04-15). "Superdrug enters first broadcast partnership with Discovery's TLC". Media Week. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  20. ^ Creevy, Jennifer (2011-05-27). "Superdrug signs first million users for loyalty card | News". Retail Week. Retrieved 2012-07-13. 
  21. ^’s-customer-mag-dares-to-go-digital/3023352.article
  22. ^ 14 Feb 2013 - 15:13 (2013-02-14). "Superdrug set to unveil new beauty brand, B.". The Drum. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  23. ^ Truscott, Claire (2007-12-07). "Counted out: Superdrug withdraws man-shaped punchbag". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-24. 
  24. ^ "Superdrug Press Release" (PDF). Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  25. ^ "Supderdrug Experiential Marketing Results". iD Experiential. 
  26. ^ "Marketing Store runs Superdrug's 'beautiful moments' tour". 2013-02-14. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 
  27. ^ "UK Customer Satisfaction Index July 2012: Best performing organisations". Institute of Customer Service. Retrieved 2013-09-21. 

External links[edit]