‘Beauty-savvy’ move: APAC retailer Watsons to open 100 stores in Middle East by 2025

By Kacey Culliney contact

- Last updated on GMT

The first Watsons retail store will open on October 1st in Dubai; the network will then expand into Saudi Arabia in 2021
The first Watsons retail store will open on October 1st in Dubai; the network will then expand into Saudi Arabia in 2021

Related tags: A.S. Watson, Middle east, UAE, retail, beauty retail, e-commerce

Asia-Pacific beauty retail major A.S. Watson Group is primed to expand into Gulf Cooperation Council countries under an exclusive franchise agreement with regional conglomerate Al-Futtaim.

Announced this week, the agreement would see the launch of 100 flagship Watsons health and beauty stores across the Middle East region by the end of 2025, marking A.S. Watson Group’s first ever franchise agreement. A.S. Watson has more than 15,000 stores worldwide.

The first flagship store was set to open in Dubai next month on October 1, along with an e-commerce portal, dedicated mobile app Watsons UAE​ and loyalty programme. Watsons would enter Saudi Arabia in 2021.

Targeting ‘beauty-savvy’ customers in the Middle East

“We are delighted to bring Watsons to the beauty-savvy customers in the Middle East, which is one of the world’s fastest-growing markets for beauty products,”​ said Dominic Lai, managing director at A.S. Watson Group.

Lai said Al-Futtaim was a business with proven experience in quality management of retail brands that would enable Watsons to bring “numerous trendy brands”​ and “new offline and online beauty experiences”​ to consumers in the region.

Omar Al Futtaim, vice chairman of Al-Futtaim Group, said the franchise agreement would contribute to the economic growth of the region and bring “quality and customer-orientated brands”​ to the region’s retail network.

“Our partnership with A.S. Watson Group is another milestone in our journey to further enhance both the UAE and the Middle East’s position in the world’s top retail destinations map, and we look forward to making this brand available across further locations in the region.”

A.S. Watson making sustainability push for consumers

A.S. Watson recently announced several sustainability pledges​. It joined the not-for-profit Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) to push forward in helping address the impact of unsustainable palm oil. The retailer also joined the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy (NPE) Global Commitment, pledging to use a minimum of 20% recycled plastic content in plastic packaging by 2025.

A.S. Watson said such commitment towards environmental sustainability was driven by consumer concerns for the environment.

“Our customers are increasingly aware of and concerned about the sustainability issues and they want the brands they trust to do the right thing for the planet,”​ said Malina Ngai, group COO of A.S. Watson Group and CEO of A.S. Watson Asia & Europe.

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