“The logistics and handling of chilled products are quite
complicated and sophisticated,” says Mr Cheung. “But the com-
petition will not be too intensive so we have room to grow our
Mr. Juicy business region by region following our success in the
south, where we are already a key player in the chilled category.
“We plan to extend juice manufacturing to Beijing and Shang-
hai in the next couple of years and later to
the middle and western region. The idea
is to establish more satellite plants outside
the core regions.”
As well as the hugely popular orange
juice, the Mr. Juicy range now includes
more exotic mixtures of fruits such as Ko-
rean citron or purple carrot with aloe vera
which are well received inHong Kong and
are being considered for the China mar-
ket. Further down the road, A S Watson
is exploring opportunities to introduce
fresh juice corners and health water in the Mainland market.
The multi-million-dollar business of juice and distilled water
is all a far cry from the first incarnation of Watsons. It came about
when the founder Dr Watson, practising medicine in China in
the 19th century, could not be guaranteed a regular supply of
quality distilled water.The medic’s solution was to start producing
his own pure water, a commodity that was in such demand that
commercial production became feasible in the 20th century.
From those humble beginnings, A S Watson emerged. The
doctor could scarcely have imagined that a century later that
China would be enjoying boom times, with Watsons as a
brand-name that is associated with an af-
fluent 21st century lifestyle.
One of the problems that A S Watson
is now facing – an unwanted compliment
– is copycat products. The packaging in
some instances is almost identical to the
distinctive Watsons bottles and cans.
“It is a big headache, and we are try-
ing to eliminate it,” says Mr Cheung.
“There are a lot of small players and it
is difficult to clamp down on each and
every one of them.”
The issue of intellectual property rights is just one of the
many challenges to be faced in A S Watson’s China adventure.
All in all, it looks like a busy few years for the A S Watson team
on the Mainland, especially if the economy continues growing
at its current average rate of 10 per cent.
A SWatson emerged from humble origins on the Mainland
TheWatson’s Mixer range is a big hit.
Affluent consumers in China
are demanding a brand-name
product when they order juice,
a mixer or a bottle of water.
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