A HUNDRED and seventy five years ago, when Hong Kong comprised only of fishing villages, a small local dispensary named after Dr. Alexander Skirving Watson opened its doors as one of the very first pharmacies on the island.
From the very start, the company, whose name would become famous worldwide as A.S. Watsons Group (ASW), was established not only as a business enterprise but one with a mission to provide free medical services to poor communities in Guandong. Since then, ASW continued to pursue what is now its long history in corporate social responsibility, a practice, which the brand Watson has taken with throughout its worldwide expansion.
Today, as the ASW Group celebrates its 175th Anniversary in Hong Kong, it has grown to become the largest international health and beauty retailer in Asia and Europe, with over 4,000 stores and more than 1,000 pharmacies in 12 Asian and European markets.
Moreover, the “Deloitte Annual Global Power of Retailing Report” indicates that in 2014, the group ranked 48th in a list of retail companies around the world with the most number of employees. Back then, Watsons provided jobs to some 12,000 employees across its retail and manufacturing businesses, a figure, which is sure to have risen in the last two years.
“We are privileged to be able to witness and grow alongside Hong Kong’s transformation from a fishing village to become a global city and the center of international trade,” said a statement from ASW Group.
“Watsons continually sets the standards in the health, wellness and beauty market, providing personalized advice and counseling in health, beauty and personal care on top of its market-leading product range, as well as reaching out to communities all over the world.”
Since April, various CSR programs have been held in different parts of the world, among them a large-scale charity event dubbed “Elderly Visit 2016” in Hong Kong, which gathered 1,300 volunteers to visit 1,750 senior citizens in the homes for wellness check-up. Another project had volunteers visiting kindergarten students to teach them the proper way of hand washing.
With so much to celebrate, Watson Philippines, a very young yet successful enterprise that opened in 2014, has also been tasked to join ASW’s worldwide activities to mark its 175th year. A program focused on supporting communities in three specific areas of health, education and wellness, has been launched under the banner “AnniverSAYA, 175 Healthy, Happy Families.” Its goal is to provide 175 families with free medical and dental consultations and services, which include tooth extraction, OB consultation, as well as screenings for blood glucose, anemia, UTI, bone, cholesterol and blood pressure check-up.
The project has since been to Sta. Mesa, and will continue to reach out to communities where Watsons branches are located.