A.S. Watson plans to open over 1,300 stores this year with one-third planned for China

By Amanda Lim

- Last updated on GMT

A.S. Watson celebrates opening of 15,000th store ©A.S. Watson
A.S. Watson celebrates opening of 15,000th store ©A.S. Watson
Health and beauty retailer A.S. Watson Group says it plans to open over 1,300 stores this year and one-third of the launches will be in China.

The company just celebrated the opening it of its 15,000th store, a Watsons located in Central i-City, Malaysia.

According to the company, it has been opening new stores at an average speed of one store every seven hours across its 25 markets in Asia and Europe for the fourth year in the row.

“Continuing this momentum, we will be expanding at the speed of one store every seven hours. In 2019 we target to open over 1,300 stores, around one-third will be in China,” ​said Dominic Lai, group managing director of A.S. Watson Group.

Confident in Malaysia’s growth potential

The 15,000th​ store also happens to be the 500th​ Watsons store in Malaysia.

Lai said that even with this milestone, it was confident of the overall retail growth of Watsons Malaysia as it still sees a lot of opportunities in the market.

“We will open 30 to 40 stores in Malaysia and refurbish 80 of our current stores in 2019. We target to open 100 stores in three years.”

It’s latest 4,200 square-feet store was designed to enhance consumer experience online and offline.

Dubbed the G8 store, it is equipped with features such as Watsons’ Hi Mirror skin analysis device.

“G8 represents the 8th Generation of the Watsons store design incorporating extensive customer and store team feedback, as well as market research of latest trends on shopping experience,”​ said Lai.

He added that it planned to launch this concept in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Turkey later this year.

Expanding further

Lai said the company was expanding quickly in China and the Philippines, where consumers are paying more attention to the latest trend beauty and health care trends.

The company will also be looking to enter new markets, said Lai.

“As a global retailer, we are always exploring opportunities to expand our brands which has plenty of future potential.”

Lai highlighted that the company opened its first store in Ho Chi Minh City and its e-commerce platform to help them reach the entire Vietnam.

“So far, we are very encouraged by the response from Vietnamese consumers.”

Consumer comes first

The company believes it has been able to endure the challenging retail landscape because of its focus on its consumers.

“The continued success of our business is about customer connectivity – our ability to connect customers with products, trends and experience they want in beauty, personal care, health and wellness,”​ said Lai.

Globally A.S. Watson has over 135 million loyalty members and has invested HK$1bn ($128m) since 2012 to enhance customer experience and enable the business to build data-driven approach to stay closer to consumers’ needs.

“Our investment in people and technology enable us to be more agile and stay relevant to customers. Our international coverage and leadership make us a powerful brand distribution platform with strong customer connectivity," ​said Lai.

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