AS Watson’s Greener Stores Accelerate Global Movement Towards a More Sustainable Future

AS Watson has just celebrated its 180th anniversary and is looking to the future with the launch of our Greener Stores Global Framework. We’re taking a leading role in global retail to show how this industry can be more sustainable in the long term.

Greener Stores Global Framework is a way to lower the environmental impact of our global store network as well as leverage our scale for good. We are building a sustainable culture and practice in the way we design, construct, operate and maintain our stores – all part of our broader vision to be part of a more sustainable future.

AS Watson Greener Stores Global Framework shows our deep commitment to accelerate our sustainability progress and move towards a more sustainable future. It is our vision to make every one of our stores a greener store with lower environmental impact throughout its lifecycle.

Keys to our Greener Stores Global Framework are efforts to inspire a sustainable culture in the everyday operations of retail stores, engaging customers in choosing more sustainable products and lifestyle, accelerating energy efficiency and renewable energy, increasing the use of responsible materials and waste diversion.

Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of AS Watson Group and CEO of AS Watson (Asia & Europe)

Going Green Globally

As the world’s largest international health & beauty retailer, AS Watson’s extensive store footprint encompasses over 16,400 stores under 12 retail brands in 29 markets. We are one of the fastest-growing retailers in the world, opening over 1,000 new stores a year. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has challenged physical retail over the past two years, we still opened 1,600 new stores.

That’s why it’s vital that our stores are a key part of a more sustainable future. Under the Greener Stores Global Framework, AS Watson’s stores worldwide will embody sustainability in every aspect from the design concept to operation. They will also play a role in engaging customers in choosing more sustainable products and lifestyles.

The Greener Stores Global Framework features 8 major areas:

Open for Business – First Greener Store Up and Running

The first store developed using the Greener Stores Global Framework is up and running in Peterborough, in the UK. This Superdrug store opened in October 2021 and serves as an example of what our Greener Stores can be. The store features fully recyclable signage made from recycled yarn and plastic bottles. Its ceiling tiles are made of bio-soluble mineral wool, clay and starch and are 100% recyclable. 

The store has several sustainability features, including an AAA-efficiency-rated air conditioning system, and reduced LED mood lighting in the ceiling which has led to a 37% saving on electricity. As a result, the store will save 5,800 KWh of energy annually, equivalent to a 1,200 kg CO2 annual reduction.

Meanwhile, The Perfume Shop in the UK has also embarked on its own sustainability journey for greener stores. The Perfume Shop unveiled an environmentally friendly concept store in Edinburgh’s St. James Quarter. The floor is made of sustainable timber and features a tree installation made from recycled bottles, paving the way for greener stores in future. The store is 100% zero-carbon store, and generates its electricity through wind, solar and hydro systems, while all lighting is LED.

Fostering a Greener Culture

The Greener Stores Global Framework is not just about how we design and run stores, it’s about creating a culture of sustainability inside and outside the organisation.

Building a sustainable culture is not a one-off action; it’s a continuous effort to raise awareness of sustainability and encourage behavioral changes among our colleagues and our customers, as well as the wider health and beauty industry.

Providing a safe and healthy environment to our people and customers is another important aspect of our Greener Stores Global Framework. We truly believe that the Framework will be win-win for everyone.

The Greener Stores Global Framework includes initiatives to engage and inspire our colleagues, our customers, and our business partners to build a better world together.

Inspiring Change with Sustainable Choices

Part of building a more sustainable future means creating, promoting and insisting on products that are great for people and the planet.

This part of the Framework builds on earlier AS Watson initiatives, such as the 2014 ban on microplastics in rinse-off exclusive cosmetics or personal care products, which was extended in 2020 to all consumer brand products sold in all of our stores.

At AS Watson, we have also been working with our global supplier partners to offer Sustainable Choices products in stores and online, making it easier for customers to find products that best suit their needs while contributing to a better world.

We have been reducing the environmental footprint of the products we sell, with a better selection of ingredients and packaging materials.

Kruidvat, for example, has been helping combat the misconception that sustainability means higher prices; its Natural and Affordable campaign, launched in 2020, promotes accessibly priced brands that make a positive impact on the planet.

At PARKnSHOP, the “Eat Better. Live Better!” mantra is being supported by a broader range of plant-based products to suit growing numbers of vegan, vegetarian and flexitarian customers. There are plans to triple the plant-based range by 2030.

We are also switching to sustainable wood pulp for use in exclusive brand paper products. Watsons already uses 100% sustainable pulp, and Superdrug and Kruidvat aim to reach that goal by 2025.

Promoting More Sustainable Lifestyles

Every year, AS Watson serves 5.5 billion customers via our O+O (Offline plus Online) platform, so it’s critical that we use our position for good, to engage and inspire our customers to do good for the planet.

That’s why our stores are used as an opportunity to engage shoppers with programmes that encourage customers to lead a more sustainable lifestyle.

For example, Superdrug is the first UK retailer to provide customers with a way to recycle empty medicine blister packs in over 200 pharmacies. Thanks to the “Little Packs, Big Impact” recycling initiative, over 4.8 million blister packs (weighing over 10,000kg) have already been recycled.

The Perfume Shop donates the cost of planting a tree for every perfume bottle that customers recycle, with the aim of planting 1 million trees by 2030.

In Asia, Watsons Hong Kong, Taiwan, Indonesia and Philippines have rolled out a region-wide plastic recycling programme for plastic containers as Watsons takes steps to “Go Green” with customers. In collaboration with supplier partners such as P&G and L'Oréal, over 1 million plastic containers have been collected and diverted from landfills, and have been re-processed through local NGOs and recyclers.

At Watsons Hong Kong, Malaysia and Singapore, in-store refill stations have been launched to encourage more customers to reduce the number of plastic containers being used, helping people play their part in creating a more sustainable world. 

AS Watson Greener Stores Global Framework is just a kick-off of our greener journey together with our customers as we continue to roll out initiatives to make our stores around the world more sustainable. We want to lead by example in setting a new benchmark for health and beauty retail, inspiring more businesses to follow suit and create more greener stores that help transform retail towards making a positive impact on the planet.

Malina Ngai, Group Chief Operating Officer of AS Watson Group and CEO of AS Watson (Asia & Europe)

You May Also Like ...