A.S. Watson Establishes the First Retail Academy in Hong Kong

A.S. Watson Group Retail Academy Launching Ceremony cum Qualifications Framework Recognized Qualifications Presentation Ceremony was held in the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) today. Over 120 staff of A.S. Watson Group (the Group) completed the Level 4 and 5 courses under the Qualifications Framework (QF). It recognizes the effort made by staff and the achievement of learning and development programme under the Group. It also announced the launch of A.S. Watson Group Retail Academy (the Academy), which will run an institution to manage all talent development programme. It is the first local retail academy in the industry, driving the development of the new retail era.

In 2016, A.S. Watson Group has launched the “Professional Diploma in Retail Management”, a Level 5 programme under the QF, becoming the first company in Hong Kong offering QF level 5 programme. The programme has also become the first QF level 5 programme designed based on “QF Specification of Competency Standards of Retail”. Under the QF, qualifications recognised in a level 5 programme are equivalent to that of a bachelor degree offered by local universities in Hong Kong. The 18-month “Professional Diploma in Retail Management” is jointly developed by the Learning and Development Team (Retail HK) of A.S. Watson Group and Institute for Entrepreneurship of PolyU.

A.S. Watson Group fully subsidises potential employees to take the “Professional Diploma in Retail Management” and offers them paid leave to study in PolyU during working hours. The course covers sales and marketing, customer management, information technology, human resources, merchandising and supply chain, store operations and strategic management and its application.

In January 2013, A.S. Watson Group became the first company in the retail sector offering its staff professional and comprehensive courses recognised by the QF. Since then, the Group has launched 15 QF accredited programmes (Level 2 to Level 5) and has trained nearly 2,600 staff across PARKnSHOP, Watsons, FORTRESS and Watson’s Wine. The Group also helps its 373 store specialists and management staff apply for “Recognition of Prior Learning” of the QF to recognise the valuable experience in retail that they have already acquired and to facilitate their pursuit of a lifelong career in the retail industry.

The first group of graduate students of A.S. Watson Group’s “Professional Diploma in Retail Management (QF level 5 programme)” attended the Recognized Qualifications Presentation Ceremony today. 20 staff of A.S. Watson Group embarked on their journey towards the goal of becoming an outstanding retail practitioner. Besides, over 100 staff received the recognition of the QF Level 4.

Speaking at the Recognized Qualifications Presentation Ceremony, Mr. Dominic Lai, Group Managing Director of A.S. Watson Group said, “As the world’s largest international growth and beauty retailer with our home base in Hong Kong,, A.S. Watson Group attaches great importance to nurturing talents and takes a pioneering role in people development and introducing QF accredited programmes. We offer opportunities for our employees to learn and develop their career. We hope that the launch of A.S. Watson Group Retail Academy, the first local retail academy in the industry, can facilitate the development of talents for retail in Hong Kong.

Lai continued, “We strive to become the top retail academy in Hong Kong for the acquisition of retail skills, knowledge and best practice, while providing a platform of continuous learning for retail professionals. The Academy offers them courses with a mix of theoretical and practical retail knowledge, so as to develop a pipeline of retail talents equipped with relevant skills and knowledge, thereby enhancing their competency and engagement at work, providing staff a comprehensive career planning system in retail. ”

Dr. Keith Chau, Programme Director of Institute for Entrepreneurship at PolyU said, “We are pleased that A.S. Watson Group develops and runs the QF programme well. Since 2016, we develop “Professional Diploma in Retail Management”, the QF level 5 programme, jointly with A.S. Watson Group. The University’s teaching staff and Quality Assurance Framework are introduced in this partnership programme between PolyU and A.S. Watson Group, to ensure that the programme reaches the recognised qualification level. It is important that the A.S. Watson Group Retail Academy could help assure the profession of retail practitioners among the industry and the public.”

Mr. Steve Au, General Manager of Qualifications Framework Secretariat said, “A.S. Watson Group is among the first group of local retail corporates that introduces QF to internal training programmes in Hong Kong. A.S. Watson Group has launched 15 QF accredited programmes (Level 2 to Level 5) since 2013. We are pleasant to see a large-scale local retail corporate to introduce the QF programme and develop into a retail academy. A.S. Watson Group values talents development and equips its staff in facing the challenges in retail industry in the near future.”