AS Watson Group plans 1400 more stores

Health and beauty retailer AS Watson Group plans to open 1400 outlets globally this year, 60 of them in Hong Kong.

However, it will not be expanding its electronics group Fortress, says COO Malina Ngai Man-lin, nor is it considering an IPO of the division “for the moment”.

Watson plans to invest HK$500 million (US$64 million) in the next three years to improve its technology platform as well as enhance big-data analysis.

Meanwhile, says MD Dominic Ngai Kai-ming, the group’s MoneyBack member reward program has been rebranded with a new mobile app that enables members to manage their accounts more conveniently. The scheme has rewarded points with a value equivalent to HK$800 million to members since its establishment 10 years ago.

AS Watson’s Hong Kong retail sales growth turned positive last month, up 1.8 per cent year-on-year, says a Mastercard report.

The increase in grocery sales and the health and beauty sector were the strongest. Groceries were up 2.3 per cent and health 5 per cent, driven mainly by domestic consumption.

Jewellery sales fell 44 per cent, which was below the 2013 level.

“Discretionary sectors historically driven by tourist spending continue to be a drag, despite stabilisation and some recovery in visitor arrivals in recent months,” AS Watson says.

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