A long 175 years ago, a small dispensary opened in Hong Kong – one of the very first pharmacies in the city.
Today, this Hong Kong-based dispensary, the forerunner of AS Watson Group, has grown into the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, with over 12,000 stores in 24 markets in Asia and Europe. Established in 1841, the group will celebrate its 175th anniversary in 2016.
According to the Deloitte Annual Global Power of Retailing Report, the group ranked 48th last year amongst all retail companies in the world. In Hong Kong, the group operates over 620 stores and is one of the largest employers with over 12,000 employees across its retail and manufacturing businesses.
“We were the 15th company registered officially in Hong Kong,” reflects Dominic Lai, group MD of AS Watson. “We are proud to have taken a Hong Kong-based company to a leading position on the world retail landscape.
“We were growing along Hong Kong as it transformed itself from a fishing village to a truly global city and a hub of international trade. AS Watson has been part of Hong Kong’s history, and will definitely be part of Hong Kong’s future.”
The group’s 175th Anniversary celebration will begin in January 2016 and will last for the full year. In Hong Kong, specially designed collectable bottles of Watsons Water will hit the market in February; Watsons will also offer customers free trips to selected markets in which the group operates as lucky draw prizes, and over 200 happy customers will enjoy free shopping every week in April. Special loyalty club member promotions will be available from all of its retail brands, including Watsons, Fortress, ParknShop and Watsons Wine, throughout the year.
Over 240 celebration activities have been planned across the globe in all the group’s 24 operating markets, to recognise the support of customers, employees, business partners and the communities in which it operates.
In another way of marking the anniversary and to support the government’s Appreciate Hong Kong campaign, the group will launch Project LOL, a philanthropy program focusing on supporting the society in three areas: health, education and caring community.
Project LOL is about bringing “Lots of Laugh, Lots of Love” to the people of Hong Kong. It is also about encouraging people to show appreciation to each other and to be positive and energetic in helping make Hong Kong, our home city, a better place. The program will be kicked off with a large-scale care for elderly activity in April 2016 when the group will mobilise the commercial sector to join forces in visiting and bringing love to 1750 singleton elderly.
Another anniversary initiative is a special edition $175 gift coupon designed with an illustration showing one of the first Watson’s The Chemist stores, in Alexandra House, Central. The coupon has value as a memento and can be used across all of the group’s retail outlets in Hong Kong, including Watsons, ParknShop, Fortress and Watson’s Wine. Just 30,000 of the special edition gift coupons will be printed, going on sale in January in all of its Hong Kong retail outlets. Another 3000 coupons will be given away to customers via social media and activities to thank customers for their support over the years. The full collection of historical sketches is available on AS Watson’s corporate website.