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Watson Opens 500th China Unit

Watson's two-year plan is to grow 1,000 stores in the country.

PARIS — A.S. Watson Group on Tuesday opened a Watsons Your Personal Store in Shanghai, marking the chain’s 500th location in Mainland China. The debut is a significant landmark in ASW’s two-year plan to have 1,000 stores there and more than 10,000 globally, the company stated.

“Despite the global economic recession, we managed to maintain our growth momentum while having tight control on costs,” said Dominic Lai, group managing director, at the opening of the Watsons location in Mall 818, according to an ASW statement. “In the first six months of this year, we achieved a like-for-like positive sales growth of 4 percent in a market context which remains challenging, especially in some parts of Europe. I am pleased to see that, in many places, our growth rate exceeds that of the market.

“Next year alone we will accelerate growth by opening 67 percent more new stores than this year, representing two new stores a day throughout the year,” he added. “Store openings aside, our game plan is to deliver sales growth by focusing on building customer loyalty and growing basket size. We are investing significantly in building our customer relationship management platforms and our loyalty programs in more and more markets.

“Currently, we have 28 million customers in our database,” said Lai. “And to drive differentiation, we will increase collaborations with strategic suppliers to improve category management and bring more innovative products to our customers at great value. Increasing our own brand product offers is also high on the agenda.”

Citing a recent report from Euromonitor International, ASW called Watsons the leading retailer in Mainland China’s health and beauty market that’s worth 500 billion yuan, or $73.2 billion at current exchange. More than three million people shop weekly at Watsons, which is in 80 cities (including 60 percent of cities in Mainland China).

For its part, ASW counts 8,600 stores in 34 Asian and European markets. Alongside Watsons, ASW’s retail holdings include Marionnaud, ICI Paris XL and The Perfume Shop. Overall, ASW boasts 25 million customers a week.