Interview with Group Managing Director - Year of Passion

2022 is designated as Year of Passion. In this interview, our Group Managing Director, Dominic Lai, shares the importance of Passion to him, our colleagues and also our business.

What does "Passion" mean to you?

To me, passion is not about meeting a deadline, fulfilling a contract, impressing other people, or even doing what you feel you really “should” be doing. It’s a desire that comes from the heart – you want to achieve something simply because it makes your heart sing.

Since I became A.S. Watson Group Managing Director 15 years ago, I’ve been driven by my own passion to make A.S. Watson even bigger and better than it was – to put a smile on our customers’ faces. And I’ve been inspired by the passion I’ve seen among our people, who I can see aren’t just here to make a living. They truly love what they do, and that’s what makes A.S. Watson such a special business.

We’ve expanded quickly, from 6,700 stores back in 2007 to over 16,000 offline and online stores today. Hard work on the part of our colleagues has been essential, of course, but we couldn’t have got to where we are now without combining that hard work with passion. It’s the passion of our 130,000 colleagues around the world that drives us forward.

The past two years have been tough. Why do you think “Passion” is important as we look ahead, after all we've been through?

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all walks of life, and the effect on business has also been profound. At A.S. Watson, we’ve faced huge challenges with our supply chains, keeping our people and customers safe, and massive shifts in demand and customer shopping behaviour. But it’s in times of crisis that heroes emerge, and I have been deeply moved by the incredible efforts of so many of our colleagues; people driven by a passion to keep going the extra mile to deliver our Purpose.

Together, we managed and overcame the difficulties we faced and were able to keep looking after each other, and our customers. We’ve emerged stronger and closer as a result, and now it’s time to look ahead.

We need to think about emerging into sunnier times, with even bigger plans for what this great company can achieve. We used to aspire to be the world’s largest international health & beauty retailer; now, we know we can do so much more.

We see our role not only as an amazing retailer, but also as a responsible and dynamic member of the community, and as a contributor to the health of the planet.

Why did you designate 2022 as the “Year of Passion”, and why is “Passion” essential at A.S. Watson in particular?

As we all know, this year we are celebrating our 180th anniversary. We’ve been through some tremendous changes in those 180 years – major world events and technological transformations – as well as serving many generations of customers all over the world.

Longevity like this in business is rare. Only the fittest and most agile can survive for so long. But the success story of A.S. Watson is about much more than survival, and that’s where passion comes in.

Passion is one of the 5 DNAs of A.S. Watson and it’s always listed as the first one.

I believe that if we are customer obsessed, and find passion in loving and serving our customers,

  • Passion fuels your motivation
  • Passion boosts your focus
  • Passion unleashes your energy
  • Passion inspires your creativity
  • Passion sparks positive attitude
  • Passion makes you happier

At A.S. Watson, success is about finding meaning and purpose in what we do – in truly believing that we make a positive difference to other peoples’ lives. Being motivated by passion is what helps each of us make a contribution to long-term business success.

A.S. Watson has strengthened its Purpose statement and renewed it: “To Put a Smile on Our Customers’ Faces Today and Tomorrow”. What’s behind this change? How does it relate to sustainability?

We are incredibly proud of our company’s history, but also deeply passionate about what we can achieve in future. The shift in focus to what we can achieve today AND tomorrow is an important signal of our intent to be part of a brighter, more sustainable future that benefits our customers and their communities. That’s what we at A.S. Watson are all about – today and tomorrow.

It has never been more clear to me that we all have a role to play in providing a better world for future generations, and as a leading global business we are proud to take on this responsibility. Sustainability is not a choice, it’s an imperative. This is why our sustainability commitment is now front and centre of all our priorities and vision. 

And we are working towards ambitious targets set out in our 2030 Sustainability Vision.

Energy: Reducing electricity intensity by 30%

Greenhouse Gas: Reducing GHG emissions (scopes 1 and 2) by 40%

Plastic: Eliminating unnecessary packaging, avoiding over-packaging and phasing out PVC Ensuring that we use a minimum of 20% recycled plastic content in plastic packaging by 2025

Protecting Forests: 

Community: Through A.S. Watson’s Give a Smile Campaign, we are aiming to restore 10,000 perfect smiles by providing life-changing free surgery to children with cleft lip and cleft palate by 2030

A sustainable future is what our customers and communities need most, and we’re passionate about doing what we can to deliver that.

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