Watsons PH plans to expand operations outside SM malls

By VG Cabuag, BusinessMirror

Posted at Jan 28 2013 08:08 AM | Updated as of Jan 28 2013 07:16 PM

MANILA, Philippines - Retailer Watsons Personal Care Stores (Philippines) Inc. said it plans to accelerate its expansion to stores outside of the SM malls.

Robert Sun, general manager of Watsons Personal Care Stores (Philippines) Inc., said the company expects to add about 40 new stores this year, most of these will be located outside the malls. Watsons Personal Care Stores (Philippines) is a joint venture between the SM Group of Companies and Hong Kong-based A.S Watson & Co., Ltd, a Hutchison Whampoa Group company.

Last year, the 10th year of Watsons’s operation in the Philippines, the company said it added 47 new branches.

At the moment, around 75 percent of its 315 stores are inside the SM malls, while the rest are standalone stores.

“We want to accelerate our outside the malls eventually. Not all provinces have malls, as they are not yet developed. We’re currently looking at places where people both live and work,” Robert U. Sun, Watsons Philippines’s chief operating officer, told reporters.

“We ended last year with 315 [stores], long way to go compared with our other retail peers. We hope to be able to catch up because we’d like to be able to give Filipinos very variable, value-adding product,” he said.

Watsons Philippines is 60-percent owned by the SM group and 40 percent by AS Watson Group, the largest health and beauty retailer in the world Around 40 percent of its product lineup is medicine and the rest are beauty and wellness items, including specialty soaps and creams.

Sun said medicines have a huge potential in the Philippine market as Watsons sells its own brand of medicines and health packs.

“I think 2013 is going to be a great year for the Philippines. From a business stand-point, we are very bullish about the Philippines. So we will continue to expand stores, and we will be expanding not only in the metropolis but also outside, nearer where people live,” he said.

Watsons is looking at a 12-percent growth in sales this year compared with last year’s 11 percent.