Our History – text version

1841
The Hong Kong Dispensary was founded in Hong Kong.

1858
Alexander Skirving Watson, a British pharmacist, joined the company as Manager.

1862
The name A.S. Watson (after Dr. Alexander Skirving Watson who joined the company as Manager in 1858) began to feature prominently with the Hong Kong Dispensary.

1869
Hong Kong Dispensary was appointed the chemist of the Hong Kong Governor and the Duke of Edinburgh.

1870
A.S. Watson set up scholarship to support local medical school. Dr Sun Yat–sen, the renowned politician and revolutionist in China, is also one of the beneficiaries under the scholarship scheme.

1871
The Hong Kong Dispensary began trading under the name A.S. Watson & Company.

1875
Erected the first factory in Hong Kong at 1-3 Stanley Street, producing six flavours of beverages.

1883
A.S. Watson expanded overseas to the Philippines and China; established a pharmacy and a soft drink factory (1884) in Manila.

1886
A.S. Watson became the 15th company registered on the Hong Kong Company Registry.

1895
A.S. Watson operated 35 stores and produced about 300 dispensary, toiletry and perfumery lines.

1903
Watsons Water was established to provide pure water in Hong Kong and Mainland China.

1910
To concentrate resources and energy, A.S. Watson closed all branches in China and the Philippines.

1937
The Japanese invasion of China halted A.S. Watson’s China operations.

1941
A.S. Watson celebrated its centenary just months before the Japanese force attack on 13th December

1945
A.S. Watson resumed business on 1stSeptember.

1963
Hutchison Whampoa Limited (forerunner of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited) acquired a controlling interest in A.S. Watson & Co., Ltd.

1972
A.S. Watson acquired PARKnSHOP supermarkets.

1973
Acquired Peter Pan Toy Shops. Launched Mountain Cream ice-cream products.

1981
Hutchison Whampoa Limited (forerunner of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited) acquired A.S. Watson. At the time we had 75 stores.

1987
Watsons expanded to Taiwan.

1988
Watsons expanded to Macau and Singapore.

1989
Watsons reopened in China.

1990
FORTRESS joined the A.S. Watson Group.

1994
Water factory opened in Beijing.

Watsons expanded to Malaysia.

1996
Watsons expanded to Thailand.

1997
Acquired Shanghai Sparkling Drinking Water.

1998
FORTRESS opened its first store in Taiwan.

Watson’s Wine opened its first store.

Expanded water operations in Europe through acquisitions.

1999
A.S. Watson sold ice-cream businesses in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Hong Kong to the Unilever Group.

2000
A.S. Watson entered European market by acquiring the Savers health & beauty retail chain in the UK.

2001
Watson’s wine business expanded into Europe with acquisition of Badaracco SA

2002
A.S. Watson acquires the Dutch-based Kruidvat Group, adding famous European brands into the portfolio, including health and beauty retailer Superdrug, Trekpleister, Rossmann and luxury perfumery ICI Paris XL.

2003
Signed agreement to sell European water operations to Nestlé Waters

Superdrug opened its first new identity store in the Bullring Birmingham in the UK

Watsons Water celebrated its 100th anniversary of purity & persistence.

Watsons opened Asia’s first third generation store

FORTRESS launched a new brand identity in Hong Kong

2004
Acquired Drogas health & beauty retail chain in the Baltics

Watsons acquired Apex Pharmacy Sdn Bhd in Malaysia

Purchased a 40 percent stake in Rossmann Germany, adding 786 stores to the Group’s retail portfolio

TASTE launched in November

Watson’s Wine introduced a new store concept in Hong Kong

2005
Watsons celebrated 100th store in Mainland China and 300th store in Taiwan

Entered Turkey through acquisition of Cosmo Shop

First Watsons health & beauty store opened in Korea

Acquired UK specialist perfume retailer Merchant Retail Group

Acquired Spektr in Russia in October

2006
Opened the first Watsons in Indonesia

Watsons celebrated its 200th store in Mainland China in June

Entered Ukraine through acquisition of DC

PARKnSHOP Hong Kong launched the MoneyBack loyalty programme

2007
A.S. Watson launched MoneyBack loyalty programme in Hong Kong.

New store concepts rolled out in respective brands across Asia and Europe

Watsons Water launched an all-in-one machine for offices

2008
A.S. Watson Group celebrated its 180th anniversary

Watsons launched its loyalty programme in Asia

Watson’s Wine celebrated its 10th anniversary serving wine-lovers in Hong Kong

Participation in 2008 Beijing Olympic Torch Relay

2009
Rossmann reached its 2,000th store milestone

Watsons opened its 500th store in China

COOL bottled water revamped its brand identity to refresh its image

2010
Watsons membership card reached 15 million members in Asia.

2011
Watsons China opens its 1000th store, with a charity cycling supporting education in rural China

DC Ukraine was rebranded to Watsons

2012
ICI PARIS XL launched its first-ever store in Germany, strengthening A.S. Watson’s footprint in Europe

Watsons underwent a major rebranding exercise to modernize the customer experience

TREAT launched in Chengdu in September as a new supermarket brand in China
SU-PA-DE-PA opened in September to bring one-stop shopping experience to Hong Kong customers
Kruidvat reached its 1,000th store milestone in the Benelux
A.S. Watson Group was named a “Caring Company” for 10 consecutive years

2013
A.S. Watson opened its 10,000th store worldwide.

A.S. Watson Group won the Silver Award in the Web Accessibility Recognition scheme

Drogas celebrated its 20th anniversary
Watsons introduced new store formats, including MUSE in Malaysia and Watsons Baby in Hong Kong
Superdrug launched its skincare & makeup collection B., ranking as a top seller in the market
PARKnSHOP Hong Kong launched its CSR programmes, covering youth, elderly, food-recycling

Watsons Water marked its 110th anniversary of purity & persistence

2014
Hutchison Whampoa Limited (forerunner of CK Hutchison) has formed a strategic alliance with Temasek. The Singapore investment company has taken an indirect equity interest of 24.95 per cent in A.S. Watson Holdings for HKD44 billion

2015
A.S. Watson Group opened its 12,000th store worldwide in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong

2016
A.S. Watson celebrates its 175th anniversary!