A.S. Watson Group enjoys resurgence in China

Global giant thrives as China returns to normal conditions.

 A.S. Watson Group is the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer with 15,700 stores in 25 markets.

Apart from its Asian business, the Hong Kong-based titan owns Superdrug, the UK’s version of Priceline, The Perfume Shop and Marionnaud, the French specialist beauty chain.

With 5 billion customers, the company has experienced a strong recovery in China as the country at the centre of the Covid-19 outbreak returns to normal conditions.

Last year, A.S. Watson increased its number of stores in mainland China by 9 per cent to 3947 outlets.

The company shuttered 2500 for over a month during the Chinese lockdown as sales slumped 80 per cent and store footfall nose-dived by 90 per cent.

During the temporary shutdown, Watson’s experienced a huge increase in e-commerce sales.

The company’s My Store program, a partnership with Chinese social media giant WeChat, continued to connect customers with beauty advisors.

Throughout the store closures, beauty advisors continued to make recommendations and conduct sales.

The retailer also placed great emphasis on its click-and-deliver service and managed to get products to customers within an hour.

Watson’s European business has also performed well.

Like Australian pharmacy chains such as Priceline, Chemist Warehouse and TerryWhite Chemmart, the company’s European stores have been classified as essential businesses because they sell OTC medications, vitamins and supplements,  in addition to cosmetics, skin and haircare.

For the first two weeks of March, Watson’s stores enjoyed 28 per cent growth in the Netherlands, 20 per cent in Germany, 14 per cent in the UK and 23 per cent in Poland.

These are big numbers that will help the bottom line in these difficult times, noted Canning Fok, group co-managing director.

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