Watsons (Chinese: 屈臣氏; Jyutping: Wat1san4si6) is the largest health care and beauty care chain store in Asia. It is a subsidiary of and the flagship health and beauty brand of the A.S. Watson Group, majority owned by CK Hutchison Holdings.
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It operates over 7,200 stores and 1,500 pharmacies in Hong Kong, Indonesia, Macau, mainland China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia and Vietnam.
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Dr. Thomas Boswell Watson (1815–1860), from Scotland, was the first member of the Watson family to arrive in the Far East, where in 1845 he set up a private practice in Macau, on the southwest coast of China. After selling his practice to a fellow doctor, he moved to Hong Kong in 1856 where he became part owner of the Hong Kong Dispensary, an offshoot of the Canton Dispensary which operated from 1828 to 1858.
Known as the "Big Medicine Shop" (Chinese: 大藥房; Cantonese: Dai Yeuk Fong), the dispensary's main customers were soldiers and sailors. The dispensary was not known as A.S. Watson until 1870, although Alexander Skirving Watson took over in 1858 following management changes. T. B. Watson sent his family back to Scotland in 1857, and he himself followed two years later.
Following the death of Dr T. B. Watson in 1860, the Hong Kong Dispensary was leased to A. S. Watson and two other doctors, and onwards from 1862, the name A.S. Watson featured prominently at the Hong Kong Dispensary. In 1871, the Watson family leased the company to Dr John David Humphreys and Dr Arthur Hunt, and thereafter trading was executed under the name A.S. Watson & Company.
Retail outlets were known as "Watsons the Chemist". The current owners, Hutchison Group, acquired a controlling interest in A.S. Watson & Co., Ltd in 1963. In 1981, it became a wholly owned subsidiary of Hutchison Whampoa Ltd. At this time, the group had 75 retail outlets.
- Richard Lord (27 October 2018). "Watsons: the story of the oldest established business in Hong Kong". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- Ray Chan (22 March 2014). "Li Ka-shing sells nearly 25pc of AS Watson to Singapore investment giant Temasek". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- "Watsons". A.S. Watson Group. Retrieved 21 January 2018.
- Dan Waters (1990). "Hongs Kong's Hongs with Long Histories and British Connections" (PDF). Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society Hong Kong Branch. 30: 219–256. ISSN 1991-7295. p. 221