The A.S. Watson Group, the world’s leading international health and beauty retailer, is gearing up for a double celebration. Last week, its flagship brand Watsons Your Personal Store opened its 1,000th store in Mainland China. At the same time the group is counting down to the opening of its 10,000th store globally before the end of the year.

A.S. Watson operates in 33 markets in Asia and Europe, with a strong focus on health and beauty retail (Watsons, Kruidvat, Trekpleister, Rossmann, Superdrug, Savers, Drogas, Spektr, Nuance-Watson) and luxury perfumes and cosmetics chain stores (Marionnaud, ICI Paris XL, The Perfume Shop), but also in food, electronics and fine wine (Fortress, Watson’s Wine, etc.).

Expansion plan in China

With the opening earlier this month in Shanghai of its 1,000th mainland China’s store, A.S. Watson made a step further to achieve its plan to expand to 3,000 stores in this country before end of 2016.

As for many retailers, China is a growth driver for the Group, which means competition is intense and we need to continue to innovate to offer more to our customers,” said Dominic Lai, A.S. Watson’s Group Managing Director.

Watsons Your Personal Store is currently the market leader in health and beauty in China. Its popularity is reflected in the 23 million members already signed up to its loyalty programme since its launch in 2009.

10,000 stores worldwide

While China appears as the group’s top priority, A.S. Watson continues developing its European business, despite the tough economic environment.

We are seeing less footfall in markets like the UK and Italy, however, customers are buying more with us on every trip which has supported our growth. Customers are extremely price-conscious, but they are still willing to spend if you have good quality products on offer,” said Dominic Lai. “We have been improving collaborations with suppliers to create excitement for our customers through product and promotional offers. Our own brand product participation levels have also been growing satisfactorily. This reflects the value-conscious mentality of customers globally; demanding quality and price at the same time which has meant our re-launched and upgraded own brand ranges are more in demand worldwide.

Thanks to its expansion in Europe during the past decade, A.S. Watson grew from a network of just over 1,100 stores mainly in Asia in 2001 to now approaching 10,000 stores across Asia and Europe. The group is set to achieve its 10,000th store milestone globally by the end of this year, thus reinforcing its position as the world’s leading health and beauty retailer. Over this period, the group has been opening 1,100 stores a year globally (an average rate of 3 stores per day this year), allowing it to serve 26 million customers per week.

A.S. Watson said it will continue its global expansion plan in 2012 while increasing further its investment and focus on customers to build engagement and loyalty.