Watsons Personal Care Stores

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"Watson's" redirects here. For the defunct department store chain in the United States, see Watson's (United States).
Watsons Personal Care Stores
Subsidiary of A.S. Watson Group
Industry Pharmacy
Health care
Beauty care
Founded 1828
Headquarters Hong Kong
Area served
Hong Kong
Key people
Li Ka-shing
Canning Fok
Parent A.S. Watson Group
Website Watsons Personal Care Stores (Hong Kong)

Watsons Personal Care Stores, known simply as Watsons, is the largest health care and beauty care chain store in Asia. It is a member of the A.S. Watson Group, majority-owned by Hutchison Whampoa Limited. It operates over 700 stores in Hong Kong, Macau, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Ukraine and Estonia.[1][2][3]


A.S. Watson advertisement, 1923

Dr. Thomas Boswell Watson (1815–1860), from Scotland, was the first member of the Watson family to arrive in the Far East, where in 1845 he set up a private practice in Macau, on the south west coast of China.[4] After selling his practice to a fellow doctor, he moved to Hong Kong in 1856 where he became part owner of the Hong Kong Dispensary, an offshoot of the Canton Dispensary which operated from 1828–1858. Known as the "Big Medicine Shop" (Chinese: 大藥房; Cantonese: Dai Yeuk Fong), the dispensary's main customers were soldiers and sailors. The dispensary was not known as A.S. Watson until 1870 although Alexander Skirving Watson took over in 1858 following management changes.[4] T.B. Watson sent his family back to Scotland in 1857 and he himself followed two years later.

Following the death of Dr T. B. Watson in 1860, the Hong Kong Dispensary was leased to A.S. Watson and two other doctors, and from 1862 onwards, the name A.S. Watson featured prominently at the Hong Kong Dispensary. In 1871, the Watson family leased the company to Dr John David Humphreys and Dr Arthur Hunt, and thereafter trading was executed under the name A.S. Watson & Company. Retail outlets were known as "Watsons the Chemist".

The current owners, Hutchison Group, acquired a controlling interest in A.S. Watson & Co., Ltd in 1963. In 1981, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. At this time, the group had 75 retail outlets.



  1. ^ About Watsons Personal Care Stores
  2. ^ AS Watson
  3. ^ Li Ka-shing sells nearly 25pc of AS Watson to Singapore investment giant Temasek, SCMP, 22 March 2014
  4. ^ a b Waters, Dan (1990). "Hongs Kong's Hongs with Long Histories and British Connections" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch 30: 219–256. ISSN 1991-7295.  p. 221

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