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Watson's or A.S. Watson (Chinese: 屈臣氏, JP: wat1san4 si6, PY: qūchén shì) is the retail and consumer division of the Hong Kong based conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Limited. Since 2005, after the acquisition of European retailer Marionnaud, A. S. Watson became the largest health and beauty retailer in the world.



The history of A.S. Watson dates back to 1828, with the opening of the Canton Dispensary. The small dispensary was formed as a clinic providing free medical services to the poor people of Canton or the southern Chinese province of Guangdong.

In 1858, Alexander Skirving Watson joined the Hong Kong Dispensary as Manager, with responsibility for the dispensing side of the business in 1860 when his uncle Dr Thomas Boswell Watson became major partner. At the death of Dr T. B. Watson in 1861, Hong Kong Dispensary was leased to A.S. Watson and two other doctors, and from 1862 onwards, the name A.S. Watson was featured prominently with Hong Kong Dispensary. In 1871, the Watson family leased the company to Dr John David Humphreys and Dr Arthur Hunt, and thereafter trading was executed under the name A.S. Watson & Company. Retail outlets were known as "Watson's The Chemist".

The current owners, Hutchison Group, acquired a controlling interest in A.S. Watson & Co., Ltd. in 1963. In 1981, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Limited. At this time, the group had 75 retail outlets.

Retail operations by type

Today, A.S. Watson has retail and manufacturing operations in 37 markets worldwide, and employs over 98,000 staff. Its retail network consists of over 7,700 stores span health & beauty chains, perfumeries & cosmetics to grocery, Consumer electronics, wine, and duty-free.

Watson's drugstores

In Asia, Watson's main retail business is the "Watson's Your Personal Store" drugstore chain. Watson's now operates this store format in several countries in Asia including Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Macau, Korea and The Philippines. They have recently launched this store format in Turkey, Estonia and Slovenia.

Other health and beauty

Watson's has expanded rapidly in Europe through a large-scale acquisition program which has seen the group become the world's biggest health and beauty retailer.

In 2000, Watson's purchased the UK based "Savers" discount drugstore chain. Subsequently Watson's acquired The Netherlands-Based Kruidvat Group, through this acquisition Watson's added over 1900 stores to its business and for the first time entered the Dutch, German and Belgian marketplaces where Kruidvat traded as Kruidvat, Trekpleister, ICI PARIS XL and Rossmann. This transaction also added "Superdrug", the number 2 health and beauty retailer in the UK, to its portfolio.

As at January 2005, it had some 4,500 shops in 19 countries around the world[1]. More recently Watson's has acquired the "Drogas" drugstore chains, The French-based "Marionnaud" perfumery business in March 2005[2], "The Perfume Shop" retail chain in the UK and "Spketr" (СПЕКТР) health & beauty retail chain in Russia and "DC", the largest health & beauty retail chain in Ukraine.


Watson's controls the "PARKnSHOP" supermarket acquired in 1972. ASW provides a range of beverages from bottled water, fruit juices, soft drinks and tea products to wine via its international wine wholesaler and distributor. Local bottler for Sunkist soft drinks, Watson's owns several famous beverage brands like "Watson's Water", and "Mr. Juicy".

Electrical goods

Watson's also controls the "Fortress" electrical chain, which it acquired in 1990.

Retail operations by market

  • Mainland China - Watson's Your Personal Store (est 1989, now 200 stores), PARKnSHOP
  • Estonia - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Continental Europe France, Benelux, Germany, Switzerland etc. - Badaracco (acquired 2001), Kruidvat (acquired 2002), Rossmann, Drogas (acquired 2004), Marionnaud (acquired 2005)
  • Hong Kong - Watson's Your Personal Store, PARKnSHOP (acquired 1972), TASTE food galleria, GOURMET food hall, GREAT Food Hall (est 2000), Fortress electrical appliances store(acquired 1990), Watson's Wine Cellar (est 1997); Nuance-Watson (est 1998), The Atrium and Temptation (Duty Free) at Hong Kong International Airport
  • Indonesia - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Macau - Watson's
  • Malaysia - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Philippines - Watson's Your Personal Store (in collaboration with SM Prime Holdings)
  • Russia - Spektr (acquired 2005)
  • Singapore - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Slovenia - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • South Korea - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Taiwan - Watson's Your Personal Store (300 stores)
  • Thailand-Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Turkey-Watson's Your Personal Store
  • Ukraine - Watson's Your Personal Store
  • United Kingdom - Savers (acquired 2000), Superdrug, The Perfume Shop


  1. ^ Perfume Empire. Oligopoly Watch (January 24, 2005). Retrieved on 2007-03-26.
  2. ^ Pitman, Simon (January 24, 2005). EU agrees Hutchison acquisition of Marionnaud. cosmetics design-europe. Retrieved on 2007-03-26.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Watson's". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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