A S Watson snaps up Dutch chain

Hong Kong based A S Watson has bought a 50-strong chain of pharmacies in the Netherlands.

The deal with Dirx Drugstores will see all 50 stores of the Dirx health and beauty retail network fall under Watson ownership, along with five additional locations currently under development. Most of the stores are in the Randstad region.

All Dirx employees will join A S Watson, parent of Kruidvat and Trekpleister chains in Holland. The Dirx stores will be converted to either Kruidvat or Trekpleister branding once the transaction is completed.

The deal remains subject to approval from the Netherlands Authority for Consumer and Market. The purchase price has not been revealed.

Gerard van Breen, CEO of A S Watson Health & Beauty Benelux said the acquisition will expand the company’s national coverage making its stores accessible to even more consumers.

Rick Groen, director of Dirx Drugstores, said that with only 50 plus stores, the business was too small a player to independently expand in the market.

“The A S Watson approach and focus of providing the best offers to customers at affordable prices is consistent with our philosophy. We are convinced that A S Watson is an excellent match to successfully move the business forward with our employees.”

Kruidvat, together with Trekpleister and Prijsmepper, is part of A S Watson Health & Beauty Benelux and a major player in the Dutch and Belgian markets.

Kruidvat, with almost 900 stores in Holland, ranked among the top three most indispensable brands in the Netherlands in a 2014 study. The chain is also active in Belgium with more than 200 stores. Trekpleister (with more than 140 stores) distinguishes itself as a neighbourhood drugstore, where expert staff plays an important role in addition to a bargain-priced range of products.

A S Watson Health & Beauty Benelux is part of the A S Watson Group, which has more than 11,000 stores in 25 markets worldwide. It is the world’s largest international health & beauty retailer in Asia and Europe, a subsidiary of Hong Kong-based Hutchison Whampoa.

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