Our History

Message from Chairman

It’s my pleasure to celebrate AS Watson Group’s 180th Anniversary with you all!

Established in 1841, we’ve grown from just one small dispensary into the world’s largest international health & beauty retailer, operating over 16,500 stores in 28 markets. AS Watson Group is one of the longest-standing companies in Hong Kong, and possibly even the world.

Our 130,000 employees serve over 5.5 billion customers every year. So many small interactions and behind-the-scenes stories have helped make AS Watson Group what it is today; not just a successful business but a much-loved part of people’s lives and their communities.

What follows are loving moments and touching stories from our 180 Year’s History of LOVE. Love has always driven us to go the extra mile, to provide the genuine warmth that makes customers feel loved and, in turn, fall in love with our brands.

On this special occasion, I would like to dedicate this book filled with our History of LOVE to you. Also, I would like to take the opportunity to thank all of our customers, colleagues and business partners for your support and for playing an important role in our growth story.

I’m so proud to be leading AS Watson at such an exciting time. We are ready to enter the next chapter in our history, and are prepared to take on the challenges and opportunities ahead. Let’s embrace them and strive for even greater success!

Dominic Lai, Chairman


Read more about our 180th Anniversary celebration - click here.



AS Watson Group History Book - 180 Years of LOVE


1841 – A Humble Beginning

In the early 1800s, Hong Kong is a small fishing village, Hong Kong Dispensary is formed in 1841 as the first drugstore in Hong Kong to offer western medicines to customers.

1970s – Asia Rising

Our entrepreneurial spirit motivates us to continue expanding the business. From 1987, we start our expansion journey overseas to all cross Asia, helping people Look Good, Feel Great.

2000s – Expansion into Europe

AS Watson enters the European market in year 2000 with our first acquisition of Savers health & beauty retail chain in the UK, followed by a number of acquisitions across Europe, bringing Kruidvat, Superdrug, Trekpleister, Drogas, Rossmann, ICI PARIS XL, Marionnaud and The Perfume Shop into our family.

2010s – Building Customer Connectivity

We stay leading since then and never want to stand still, the Group embarked on our journey of digital transformation since 2012 to stay relevant to customers, providing seamless offline plus online integrated experience 24/7, we call it O+O.

The Future – Our Commitment Continues

In 2021, AS Watson Group is celebrating its 180 years as one of the longest standing retailers in Hong Kong and in the world.
Much has changed over 180 years, for us and our customers. But one thing hasn’t changed: our purpose to put a smile on our customers’ faces remains.