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Superdrug Stores PLC
Industry Retail
Founded 1964 by Ronald & Peter Goldstein
Number of locations
787+ (recently announced intentions to open 100 stores over the next 3 years taking the total to over 887)
Key people
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 Increase £1.11 billion, up 5.4% on 2014. (2015)
Increase Pre-tax profit of £62.2m, up 62.4% on 2014. (2015)
Owner CK Hutchison Holdings
Parent A.S. Watson Group
Slogan "That Superdrug Feeling"

Superdrug Stores PLC (trading as Superdrug) is a health and beauty retailer in the United Kingdom, and the second-largest in the country behind Boots. The company has been a subsidiary of A.S. Watson Group since 2002, itself part of the Hong Kong conglomerate CK Hutchison Holdings. It trades from nearly 900 stores across the UK and Ireland with the recent intention another 100 over the next 3 years. Superdrug employs over 14,000 people ranging from minimum wage jobs to some of the highest paid within the industry. Superdrug is currently the UK's fastest growing health and beauty retailer more than doubling its profit in 2015.

Besides health and beauty products, the company also have pharmacies with consultation rooms in over 220 stores, and a further 19 contain nurse clinics. It maintains links with its sister companies also owned by A.S. Watson Group, Savers and The Perfume Shop.


Origins and expansion[edit]

Superdrug in the Horsefair Centre, Wetherby, West Yorkshire
Superdrug, Kings Mall, Hammersmith, London (2016)

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.

By 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 utilisation of Kingfisher's surplus high street property portfolio and substantial financial assets. That 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, and 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. Kruidvat was subsequently sold to AS Watson, the retail and manufacturing business of the Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa in 2002. AS Watson is also the parent company of Savers, the UK's number three drugstore chain. Subsequently, 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]

Recent years[edit]

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. All Superdrug own label products carry the leaping bunny cruelty-free logo. This does not, however, cover products made by other brands sold in the store.

During 2010 Superdrug, went into partnership with sister company The Perfume Shop by trialling shop in shop concessions. The partnership was tried in 11 Superdrug Stores, including; Aylesbury, Milton Keynes, Bury, Glasgow, Westfield London and Kensington High Street.[4]


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.[5]

During 2013 Superdrug ventured into the Premium Skin Care market, by launching a new and exclusive brand called "B". The brand offers both Skin Care and Make-up and was launched during January and February 2013, accompanied by a multimillion-pound advertising campaign including TV advertising, magazine promotion, blogger reviews and a pop-up tour around the UK's largest shopping centre's.[6]



On 1 October 2010, the Take Another Look campaign was launched by Superdrug to encourage customers to "Take Another Look" at the company.[7]

On 7 February 2013, Superdrug launched a new marketing and advertising campaign, "That Superdrug Feeling", featuring actual Superdrug staff from their stores.[8]

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.[9]

Loyalty card[edit]

On 11 May 2011, Superdrug launched their first reward card called, The Beautycard.[10] The card was launched as part of the 'Take Another Look' campaign, which has been at the heart of the companies marketing strategy since October 2010. On 27 May 2011, Superdrug announced they had signed up 1 million customers to its loyalty card scheme.[11]

In 2015, Superdrug adapted their loyalty card in order to appeal to more of a mass market, renaming it Health and Beautycard. The concept of the card containing a mirror remained but was redesigned to give a more mature look and feel.


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.[12][13]


  1. ^ a b "Superdrug History". Retrieved 1 September 2008. 
  2. ^ "Superdrug rolls out the next generation". July 2007. 
  3. ^ "Superdrug becomes BUAV approved". 19 February 2010. Retrieved 26 July 2010. 
  4. ^ "The Perfume Shop to trial Superdrug tie-up". Retrieved 25 August 2015. 
  5. ^ Holland, Tiffany (24 February 2012). "Superdrug launches advanced skincare clinics". Retail Week. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  6. ^ "Superdrug set to unveil new beauty brand, B.". The Drum. 14 February 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  7. ^ "Superdrug makes TV comeback with a new ad". Retrieved 12 October 2010. 
  8. ^ "Superdrug set to run new ad campaign featuring real staff from its stores". The Drum. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 21 September 2013. 
  9. ^ [1][dead link]
  10. ^ Baker, Rosie. "Superdrug takes on Boots with loyalty". Marketing Week. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  11. ^ Creevy, Jennifer (27 May 2011). "Superdrug signs first million users for loyalty card". Retail Week. Retrieved 13 July 2012. 
  12. ^ Truscott, Claire (7 December 2007). "Counted out: Superdrug withdraws man-shaped punchbag". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 24 May 2010. 
  13. ^ "Superdrug Press Release" (PDF). Retrieved 21 September 2013. 

External links[edit]