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A.S. Watson has appointed Roland van den Berg as General Manager of Trekpleister. 

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A.S. Watson has announced that it will partner Infosys as part of its Technology Partnership Programme announced earlier this month.

Expertise in AI and data science

The partnership with Infosys will provide A.S. Watson expertise in AI and data science. Infosy's vast experience will also help the retailer optimise its customer centric analytics platform. This appointment is part of A.S. Watson's wider global digital transformation strategy.

Infosys noted, 'We will leverage our vast experience in the retail industry, our deep understanding of global markets as well as our extensive digital capabilities to help the A.S. Watson Group achieve its objectives'.

 

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A.S. Watson has launched a Technology Partnership Programme to build a network of strategic partners to accelerate its global digital transformation.

Greater visibility to drive growth

A.S. Watson's latest announcement will see their ‘Tech Partners’ receive visibility on the group’s growth strategy. This should help provide expert advice and services, and access to innovations developed by their partners. The first batch of tech partners include Microsoft, EPAM, Ovolab, Mtel, UST Global, Tableau and Rubikloud, offering expertise in cloud systems, big data capabilities, AI, ecommerce and data visualisation.

Since 2011, A.S Watson Group has focused much attention on developing its ecommerce strategy. It established eLab in 2015, focusing on digital marketing, and partnered with Toronto-based Rubikloud to develop big data capabilities last year. With needs of consumers changing quickly, the retailer recognises that technology has become even more important.

Strategic relationships offering expertise

Group COO, Malina Ngai, said “We believe every technology partner whom we have chosen to work with is more than just a vendor. Traditional client-vendor relationship is short-term. There is lack of transparency and continuity in the way we work with each other. Besides, project base contract makes it difficult for their resource planning[...]".

"The partnership program is designed to transform the short term contractual relationship to a longer term strategic relationship to create a win-win for both parties. Our tech partners will have access to senior management, visibility on our growth strategy and technology roadmap, as well as a longer term financial commitment from us. We can benefit from their commitment in providing consistent resources, expert advice and services, as well as first hand access to innovation they develop [...]”.

Leadership update in China...

Kulvinder Birring has been appointed CEO of Watsons China. Since joining A.S. Watson in 2005 as Asia regional finance head, he has assumed leadership roles in Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia. Last March, he was appointed acting-CEO of Watsons China. During his leadership, he has aggressively expanded Watsons' network in China to over 3,000 stores in more than 430 cities.

 

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European retailers, Kruidvat and Trekpleister, owned by A.S. Watson, will end the sales of tobacco products in over 1000 stores in next two years.

Tobacco sales to be phased out of stores

Kruidvat is aiming to end sales of tobacco at two-thirds of their stores this year. For practical reasons, this will be phased out to the rest of their store network in 2019. In new and renovated Kruidvat stores, it will no longer sell tobacco products. With the aim to end the sale of tobacco products at all stores by the end of 2019, the decision will impact over 250 Kruidvat stores in Belgium, 933 Kruidvat and 190 Trekpleister stores in the Netherlands.

Setting new standards...

CEO of A.S. Watson Health & Beauty Benelux, Gerard van Breen, said "We strive to best help our customers to be and stay healthy by offering them an extensive and affordable assortment. The sale of tobacco is not compatible with this desire[...]. We are the first major distributor to take responsibility by ending tobacco sales in our stores within two years. We want to help protect children from the temptation of smoking. The 'no tobacco' must become the new standard [...]" 

This latest announcement is a major step towards aligning the business closer to health, a move that the Foundation Against Cancer in Belgium has praised as a 'courageous decision'. By voluntarily ending the sales of tobacco products, the retailer has set a precedent for others to follow this example.  

 

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