Our History

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1841-milestone

1841

June 10, 1841

Watson's The Chemist Alexandra House

The Hong Kong Dispensary is founded in Hong Kong.

1858

June 10, 1858

Alexander Skirving Watson, a British pharmacist, joins the company as Manager

1862

June 10, 1862

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

1869

December 2, 1869

1869

Hong Kong Dispensary is appointed the chemist of the Hong Kong Governor and the Duke of Edinburgh

1870s

November 16, 1870

Dr-Sun-Yat–sen

A.S. Watson sets 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

June 10, 1871

1871

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

1883

June 10, 1883

1883

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

1886

June 10, 1886

ASWCo-CI-1

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

1895

June 10, 1895

A.S. Watson operates 35 stores and produces about 300 dispensary, toiletry and perfumery lines.

1900-milestone

1903

June 10, 1903

1903-1

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

1910

June 10, 1910

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

1937

July 28, 1937

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

1941

July 28, 1941

1941

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

1945

July 28, 1945

A.S. Watson resumes business on 1st September.

1963

July 28, 1963

1963

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

1972

July 28, 1972

1972

A.S. Watson establishes PARKnSHOP supermarkets.

1973

July 28, 1973

1973

Acquires Peter Pan Toy Shops. Launches Mountain Cream ice-cream products.

1980-milestone

1981

July 28, 1981

Hutchison-House

A.S. Watson becomes a fully-owned subsidiary of Hutchison Group (forerunner of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited). At the time we have 75 stores

1987

July 28, 1987

1987

Watsons expands to Taiwan.

1988

July 28, 1988

Watsons expands to Macau and Singapore.

1989

August 11, 1989

Watsons reopens in China.

1990

July 28, 1990

1990

FORTRESS joins the A.S. Watson Group.

1994

July 28, 1994
  • Water factory opens in Beijing.
  • Watsons expands to Malaysia.

1996

July 28, 1996

Watsons expands to Thailand.

1997

July 28, 1997

1997

Acquires Shanghai Sparkling Drinking Water.

1998

July 28, 1998
  • FORTRESS opens its first store in Taiwan.

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  • Watson’s Wine opens its first store.

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  • Expands water operations in Europe through acquisitions.

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1999

July 28, 1999

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

2000-milestone

2000

July 28, 2000

Savers

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

2001

July 28, 2001

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Watson’s wine business expands into Europe by acquiring Swiss-based international wine wholesaler/distributor Badaracco SA.

2002

July 28, 2002

Kruidvat-Group-Logos

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

July 28, 2003
  • Signs agreement to sell European water operations to Nestlé Waters
  • Superdrug opens its first new identity store in the Bullring Birmingham in the UK

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  • Watsons Water celebrates its 100th anniversary of purity & persistence.

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  • Watsons opens Asia’s first third generation store at Pacific Place, Hong Kong.
  • FORTRESS launches a new brand identity in Hong Kong

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2004

July 28, 2004
  • Enters Eastern Europe through acquisition of Drogas health & beauty retail chain in the Baltics.
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  • Watsons acquires Apex Pharmacy Sdn Bhd from Apex Healthcare Bhd in Malaysia
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  • Purchases a 40 percent stake in Rossmann Germany, adding 786 stores to the Group’s retail portfolio.
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  • TASTE launches in November
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  • Watson’s Wine introduces a new store concept in Hong Kong

2005

July 28, 2005
  • Watsons celebrates 100th store in Mainland China and 300th store in Taiwan
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  • Enters Turkey through acquisition of Cosmo Shop.
  • First Watsons health & beauty store opens in Korea.
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  • Acquires UK specialist perfume retailer Merchant Retail Group including The Perfume Shop in August.
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  • Acquires Spektr in Russia in October.

2006

July 28, 2006
  • Opens the first Watsons in Indonesia.
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  • Watsons celebrates its 200th store in Mainland China in June
  • Enters Ukraine through acquisition of DC, the largest health & beauty retail chain in the market in July.
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  • PARKnSHOP Hong Kong launches the MoneyBack loyalty programme, which is later extended to Watsons and FORTRESS Hong Kong, and PARKnSHOP China in 2009.

2007

July 28, 2007
  • A.S. Watson launches MoneyBack loyalty programme in Hong Kong.
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  • New store concepts for Watsons in Asia, Kruidvat and Trekpleister in the Benelux and Superdrug in the UK.
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    y2007_002

  • Watsons Water launches an all-in-one machine serving coffee, milk tea and hot chocolate on top of cold and hot water for offices.

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2008

July 28, 2008
  • Watsons launches its loyalty programme in Asia, first in Taiwan, and subsequently in Mainland China, Thailand, Singapore and Malaysia in 2009-2010.
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  • Watson’s Wine celebrates its 10th anniversary serving wine-lovers in Hong Kong
  • 18 staff members from A.S. Watson Group participate in the 2008 Beijing Olympic Torch Relay.

2009

July 28, 2009
  • Rossmann reaches its 2,000th store milestone in Germany, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary.
  • Watsons openes its 500th store in China
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  • COOL bottled water revamps its brand identity to refresh its image

2010

July 22, 2010

2010-WTC-card

Watsons membership card reaches 15 million members in Asia.

2011

July 28, 2011
  • To commemorate Watsons China reaching 1000 stores, a special bike cycling is staged at the 1000th store’s opening ceremony where customers are invited to ride for health and charity, supporting Sower’s Action work on education in rural China.
  • DC Ukraine is rebranded to Watsons as a strategic move to sustain its leadership in the market
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2012

July 28, 2012
  • ICI PARIS XL launches its first-ever store in Germany, strengthening A.S. Watson’s footprint in European luxury retail business

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  • Watsons undergoes a major rebranding exercise to modernize the customer experience

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  • TREAT launches in Chengdu in September as a new supermarket brand in China

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  • Combining both a state-of-the-art supermarket with the variety of a department store, SU-PA-DE-PA opens in September to bring one-stop shopping experience to Hong Kong customers

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  • Kruidvat reaches its 1,000th store milestone in the Benelux

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  • A.S. Watson Group is named a “Caring Company” for 10 consecutive years by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service

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2013

July 28, 2013
  • A.S. Watson opens its 10,000th store worldwide.

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  • A.S. Watson Group becomes the first retail company to win the Silver Award in the Web Accessibility Recognition scheme, making its corporate website a barrier-free web for all

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  • Drogas celebrates its 20th anniversary

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  • Watsons introduces new store formats to upgrade shopping experience, including beauty concept store MUSE in Malaysia and Watsons Baby in Hong Kong

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  • Superdrug launches its skincare & makeup collection B., making a big hit and ranking as a top seller in the market

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  • PARKnSHOP Hong Kong establishes its Corporate Social Responsibility programmes, covering youth, elderly, food-recycling and assistance

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  • Watsons Water marks its 110th anniversary of purity & persistence

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2014

September 4, 2015

Temasek-alliance

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

2015

September 4, 2015

12000-store

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

2016

January 5, 2016
    ASW-175-Anniversary-Shopping-Bag-Logo-English

  • A.S. Watson Group celebrates its 175th anniversary in 2016. The celebrations kick off with a cocktail event officiated by Carrie Lam, GBS, JP, Chief Secretary for Administration of Hong Kong SAR Government.
  • A.S. Watson continues to expand and reaches 13,000 stores, operating 13 international retail brands in 25 markets across Asia and Europe.
  • Watsons China exceeds 2,800 stores.
  • A.S. Watson global loyalty member reaches 120 million.