Malaysia – To celebrate its 30th anniversary, Watsons Malaysia has launched its first-ever branded airplane in collaboration with AirAsia, taking its health and beauty offerings to the skies.

The Watsons-branded airplane will start serving passengers from mid-July onwards at Kuala Lumpur International Airport Terminal 2 and will feature Watsons’ branding, in-flight shopping opportunities, and various in-flight engagement activities. 

As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, Watsons Malaysia will introduce a series of initiatives to share joy with its customers and enhance the shopping experience. 

The in-flight shopping experience features key product categories, including travel and health essentials, on-the-go beauty products, exclusive brands, and Watsons Brand items. Passengers can easily view and scan QR codes for these products before take-off and conveniently collect their purchases at any Watsons stores in Malaysia upon arrival.

Watsons members can also enjoy region-wide privileges with the Asia One Pass, available in 10 markets. This allows members to access local offers while travelling and earn points not only in their home market but across all Watsons markets in Asia.

Loyalty members who spend at least RM100 in a single transaction, either offline or online, will have the chance to win prizes such as AirAsia flight tickets, AirAsia MOVE hotel stays, AirAsia MOVE points, and Watsons e-vouchers.

Dr. Malina Ngai, group CEO of AS Watson Group, said, “Today, I’m excited to officiate the launch of our partnership with AirAsia to have our first-ever Watsons-branded airplane as a special initiative for the 30th anniversary. What led us to this partnership is our shared belief that ‘Sky is Not the Limit’—our passion to serve our customers has no limits, and anything is possible for us.” 

Ngai added, “Watsons has been at the forefront of revolutionising the in-store environment for customers, and over these two years, we’re innovating customer experiences in Asia, including Malaysia, and investing USD250 million in 6,000 new and upgraded stores. This means 75% of the store portfolio in Asia will provide a more innovative and enhanced experience for our customers.” 

Caryn Loh, managing director of Watsons Malaysia and regional exclusives director at Watsons International, said, “As customers’ expectations for a seamless and pleasant shopping experience have been rising for over two years, Watsons Malaysia is opening and upgrading 300 O+O stores and enhancing its shopping experience, making its stores the preferred destinations for interactive experiences as the No. 1 personal care and beauty retail brand in Asia.” 

Watsons Malaysia is committed to elevating the shopping experience with innovative and immersive offerings that help customers “look good, do good, and feel great.” Central to its business is the dedication to providing a wide range of high-quality products at great value, ensuring a pleasant shopping experience. As one of the fastest-growing markets in Asia, Watsons Malaysia now operates over 700 stores and offers 12,000 products online and offline.

Hong Kong – Putting its customers at the forefront, Watsons, the flagship health and beauty brand of AS Watson Group, has committed US$250 million to opening and upgrading 6,000 stores across Asia over the next two years.

Watsons’ investment will enhance over 2,200 O+O (offline plus online) stores across 15 markets in Asia, Europe, and the Middle East. The company aims to have more than 3,800 newly opened and upgraded O+O stores by the end of 2024.

According to Malina Ngai, group CEO of AS Watson, “As the leading health and beauty retailer in Asia, we’re committed to offering our customers the highest quality range of products at great value, as well as providing them with a very pleasant shopping experience. We constantly hear from our customers about where we can improve, and we work closely with key brands to improve category-specific experiences.”

“Watsons has been at the forefront of revolutionising the in-store environment for customers, and over these two years, we are investing USD 250 million in new store openings and upgrading existing stores across our 15 operating markets. We are opening over 1,200 new stores in 2023–24 and investing in refitting approximately 4,800 stores in the same period. This means 75% of the store portfolio in Asia will provide a more innovative and upgraded experience for our customers,” she added. 

The new and upgraded Watsons stores have been designed to appeal to modern beauty lovers seeking a more exciting shopping experience. 

Recently, Watsons China unveiled ‘Watsons Pink’, featuring a striking pink colour theme throughout the store’s interior, designed to attract and engage young customers. The stores also offer spa services, providing a relaxing experience that allows shoppers to indulge and pamper themselves while they shop.

Additionally, Watsons China has launched a ‘Beauty Playground’ zone in its new concept stores. This innovative area provides a chic, experience-driven makeup space where customers can access professional makeup artists for personalised advice and expertise. It also offers the opportunity to experiment with various looks and explore a wide range of colour cosmetics.

Meanwhile, Watsons Taiwan has reimagined its stores into an aesthetically pleasing space ideal for social media. The chic makeup zone features a lipstick-shaped makeup table and a striking circular pink light box on the ceiling. Additionally, Watsons introduces ‘My Colour Studio’, where customers can undergo seasonal colour analysis to identify their skin tone, eye, and hair colour, helping them discover the perfect colour palette for their clothing, makeup, and hair.

Watsons Malaysia elevates the shopping experience with a focus on fun and engagement. Alongside diverse experiential zones like ‘My Beauty’, ‘Hair Studio’, and ‘Watsons To Go’, they have introduced ‘K-pop Land’, a vibrant area dedicated to K-beauty products. This colourful, Instagram-worthy zone is designed to attract young customers, encouraging them to create memorable moments with friends. Additionally, the newly introduced ‘Kid’s Wonderland’ offers a perfect setting for families to shop together and enjoy quality time with their children.

In addition to enhancing and redefining the beauty experience for its customers, Watsons is also dedicated to expanding and elevating its professional health offerings.

To cater to the increasing demand from health-conscious customers, Watsons has introduced a revitalised shopping experience focused on health products and personalised consultations. In Watsons Hong Kong, the flagship store will include the ‘HealthQ’ health decoding station, where pharmacists, Chinese medicine practitioners, and nutritionists offer tailored health consultations, vaccinations, and assessments to support customers’ wellness journeys.

And in Thailand, Watsons has launched an enhanced health experience with a modern, stylish store design and a wide range of health products. To support customers on their wellness journeys, the store now features a private consultation room where pharmacists offer personalised, professional advice tailored to individual needs.

Ngai explained, “Watsons understands that simply providing the best products is no longer sufficient to meet the needs of our customers. We’re committed to continuous expansion and innovation, offering the best O+O customer experience. Watsons will always strive to inspire our 100 million loyal members to ‘Look Good, Do Good, and Feel Great’ with us.” 

Hong Kong – AS Watson Group has announced the appointment of Freda Ng as the managing director of PARKnSHOP for Hong Kong and Macau, succeeding Norman Yum who has made the decision to retire and will be appointed as business advisor

Ng joined AS Watson Group (ASW) in 2010 in a business planning role, and joined PARKnSHOP as chief operating officer in 2023. Prior to her appointment in PARKnSHOP, she was the chief digital officer of Watsons International and the chief customer and digital officer of Watsons Hong Kong.

Looking ahead, as the managing director of PARKnSHOP, Ng will continue to build upon the strong business foundation and deliver a seamless shopping experience to the customers in the supermarket’s portfolio of nearly 260 O+O stores. 

Dominic Lai, group managing director of AS Watson Group, commented, “Freda has been a valuable member of AS Watson for 14 years, excelling in various roles in business planning, customer experience, digital innovation and development. We’re very confident that Freda will lead PARKnSHOP in continuing the journey of transformation and take the business to new heights.”

He added, “I would like to express heartfelt gratitude to Norman for his dedicated service in PARKnSHOP. During his tenure, PARKnSHOP successfully launched its online business and built the O+O (Offline plus Online) platform model, expanding its customer reach and adapting to the evolving digital landscape. We would like to extend our appreciation to Norman for his unwavering dedication and outstanding leadership and wish him a fulfilling retirement.” 

Hong Kong – The consequences of the pandemic are unprecedented and felt around the world, wreaking havoc across the retail industry. Euromonitor International, the global independent strategic market research provider firm, has revealed its list of the top companies within the retailing industry in the APAC region for 2020, and in Hong Kong, more than half of the leading companies in 2019 are still the ones that ruled 2020.

The majority of the 10 companies on the list maintained their sales growth and rankings in 2020. International health and beauty retailer AS Watson Group has retained its standing, coming out to reign the rankings as the top retailer. This was followed by Dairy Farm International Holdings, the pan-Asian retailer that operates across food, health and beauty, and home furnishings, and restaurants, with Japan-based distribution business firm Seven & I Holdings Co landing in the third spot.

Meanwhile, jewelry company Chow Tai Fook Jewellery Group also maintained its sales as well, coming out in the fourth spot, while property developer Sun Hung Kai Properties caps the top five. One of the firms that have also retained growth for the year is convenience store firm Alimentation Couche-Tard ending in the eighth spot.

Two out of the top 10 firms have registered improvement in sales, namely, retail and financial services company AEON Group and multimedia business firm Hong Kong Television Network, landing in the sixth and seventh spots respectively.

On the other hand, jewelry retailer firm Luk Fook Holdings and retail chain company Broadway Photo Supply have dropped sales in 2020.

AS Watson Group, which registered $9.8b in sales in 2020 came out as the 34th leading retailer in the Asia region. For the region, Alibaba Group Holding took the crown with $367b in total sales for the year.

According to Euromonitor, the pandemic has had a significant negative effect on consumer confidence, leading many to rein in their spending, which impacted many retailers adversely enough to exit the market. However, the pandemic has been a boon for grocery retailers and e-commerce and will continue to enjoy strong growth in retail current value sales, as consumers become more interested in home cooking and following a healthier diet.

In 2021, the research firm believes that brick-and-mortar sales will begin to rebound, while retailers that depend on tourism will be the slowest to recover, including stores selling jewelry, watches, and apparel, as well as footwear, and luggage.