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AS Watson sales grew 7 per cent last year, despite protests

Health-and-beauty retailer AS Watson recorded 7 per cent growth last year despite the political unrest in its key Hong Kong market.

“What’s worth mentioning is the growth of health and beauty in Asia which was significantly impacted by the social unrest in the second half of 2019,” said AS Watson Group MD Dominic Lai. “If you take it out, the rest of Asia [outside Hong Kong] was growing at 14 per cent, which is very healthy,” he said in comments translated by the South China Morning Post.

Watsons Hong Kong represented just 2.6 per cent of the retail division’s pre-tax profit last year.

The retailer operates more than 15,000 stores in 25 international markets, predominantly in the health-and-beauty category. The sector benefited from developments in digital retail, house brands and exclusive offerings, and an uptick in customer connectivity with its 137 million-strong membership base.

The firm expects its China trading this year to be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but is confident that its profits will be sustainable profitability given its geographical diversity, strong partner relationships and loyal member base.

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