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The largest international health and beauty retailer, A.S. Watson Group, plans to open 1,400 stores across the world this year.
Despite failing in a recent bid to acquire heath retailer Holland & Barrett, Watsons have moved swiftly to announce their latest expansion plans. Watsons aims to open 1,400 outlets globally this year, with 500 stores in China, a further 60 in Hong Kong and 55 in Thailand. Their network will also expand in Turkey and in the emerging markets of Eastern Europe.
It comes as no surprise that the new stores will not be seen in their electronic's arm, Fortress, as it was their Health & Beauty segment which showed the strongest performance in FY2016, growing 6% in local currencies.
The group plans to support their network expansion by investing HK$500mn (US$64mn) in their technology platform in the next three years. Watsons aims to improve their technology services such as their MoneyBack reward program; a membership card that is now available as a mobile application enabling customers to share and transfer points between members. Investment is also expected to improve the retailer's analysis of Big Data.
Watsons will hope that their latest strategic announcements will help improve on their overall performance in FY2016, when they reported flat retail revenue of HKD151.5bn (US$19.5bn) and 2% decline in operating profit compared to previous year.