AS Watson Greener Stores Accelerate Global Movement Towards a More Sustainable Future

Thursday April 21st, 2022

As AS Watson (ASW) just celebrated its 180th anniversary, the Group is launching a Greener Stores Global Framework to accelerate the transformation of retail towards lower-environmental impact stores to achieve a reduction in carbon emissions, water usage and landfill waste as well as leverage its scale for good to speed up the global movement towards a more sustainable future. The ASW Greener Stores Global Framework aims to forge and inspire its businesses to build a stronger sustainability culture and practice in the way it designs, constructs, operates and maintains its stores.

AS Watson Introduces Greener Stores
As the world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, AS Watson operates an extensive network of over 16,400 stores under 12 retail brands in 29 markets. It is one of the fastest growing retailers opening over 1,000 stores a year. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two years, AS Watson continued to open 1,600 new stores. That’s why making its stores greener is pivotal in accelerating its sustainability progress.

According to Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of AS Watson Group, and CEO of AS Watson (Asia and Europe), “AS Watson Greener Stores Global Framework shows our deep commitment to accelerate our sustainability progress and move towards a more sustainable future. It is our vision to make every one of our stores a greener store with lower environmental impact throughout its lifecycle.

“Keys to our Greener Stores Global Framework are efforts to inspire a sustainable culture in the everyday operations of retail stores, engaging customers in choosing more sustainable products and lifestyle, accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy, increasing the use of responsible materials and waste diversion.”

AS Watson Chooses Superdrug Peterborough in the UK as its First Greener Store
Ngai continues, “Under the Greener Stores Global Framework, AS Watson will be developing store designs that minimize its environmental impact from the full lifecycle of the store. This includes the increasing use of recyclable materials, explore ways to enhance energy efficiency, reduce waste, save water, all the way to end-of life disposal. The construction process will also be carefully planned and managed to ensure landfill and recycling targets are set together with local contractors.”

AS Watson’s first greener store is a Superdrug store in Peterborough’s Serpentine Green Shopping Centre in the U.K. opened last October. Sustainability has been a core focus of the store development process from conception to reality. The store features fully recyclable signages that were made from recycled yarn and plastic bottles. Its ceiling tiles were also made from bio-soluble mineral wool, clay and starch and is also 100% recyclable.

The store has also introduced several sustainability features including an AAA efficiency rate air conditioning system, a waste management target of 5% to landfills and using a reduced number of LED mood lights in the ceiling which led to a 37% saving on electricity. As a result, the store has managed to save 5,800 KWh of energy annually which is equivalent to a 1,200 kg CO2 annual reduction.

Daily Operations – Forging a Sustainable Culture
Emphasizing the importance of a comprehensive approach, Ngai adds, “AS Watson Greener Stores Global Framework is not just about how we construct stores, it’s about creating a culture of sustainability inside and outside the organization. That’s why the Framework also comprises of initiatives to engage and inspire our colleagues, our customers, and our business partners to team up with us to build a better world.

Building a sustainable culture is not a one-off action; it’s a continuous effort to raise awareness of sustainability and bring behavioral changes to our people, customers as well as health and beauty industry as a whole. Providing a safe and healthy environment to our people and customers is just as important in our Greener Stores Global Framework. So we truly believe that the Framework will ultimately bring an all-win situation to all parties.”

AS Watson has been actively reducing the environmental footprint of its products with a better selection of ingredients and packaging materials. Since 2014, AS Watson has banned the use of microplastics in its rinse-off exclusive cosmetics or personal care products. This ban was extended to all consumer brand products sold in all stores in 2020. AS Watson has also been working with its global supplier partners, including Procter & Gamble, L’Oréal, Shiseido, Beiersdorf, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Kao, Reckitt and Unilever, to offer Sustainable Choices products, in stores and online in Asia, making it easier for customers to find products that best suit their needs while contributing to a better world.

Customer Experience – Inspiring Sustainable Lifestyle
Every year, AS Watson serves 5.5 billion customers via its O+O (Offline plus Online) platform so it’s critical to engage and inspire our customers to do good to the planet with us. Besides providing Sustainable Choices products, we’ve been running a wide variety of programmes that encourage customers to lead a sustainable lifestyle.

In Europe, Superdrug is the first U.K. retailer to provide customers with a solution to recycle empty medicine blister packs in over 200 pharmacies. Thanks to the “Little Packs, Big Impact” recycling initiative, over 4.8 million blister packs have been recycled weighing over 10,000 kg. Meanwhile, at The Perfume Shop, for every perfume bottle that customers recycle, it donates the cost of planting one tree and its target is to plant 1 million trees by 2030.

In Asia, Watsons Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Philippines have rolled out a region-wide plastic containers recycling programme to Go Green with its customers. In collaboration with supplier partners such as P&G and L'Oréal, over 1 million plastic containers have been collected and diverted from landfills and re-processed through local NGOs and recyclers. Meanwhile, at Watsons Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, Refill Stations have been launched to encourage more customers to play a part to reuse the containers and reduce the use of plastic, contributing to a more sustainable world.

Ngai concludes, “AS Watson Greener Stores Global Framework is just a kick-off of our greener journey together with our customers as we continue to roll out initiatives to make our stores around the world more sustainable. We want to lead by example in setting a new benchmark for health and beauty retail, inspiring more businesses to follow suit and create more greener stores that help transform retail towards making a positive impact on the planet.”