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A.S. Watson launches new joint venture
with SM Group in the Philippines

(25 April 2002, Hong Kong) A.S. Watson (ASW), one of Asia's largest retail groups, today announced a joint venture with Health and Beauty, and Family Drugstore, members of the SM Group of Companies, to bring Watson's health and beauty and pharmacy stores to the Philippines. This is the first major foreign investment of an international retail chain store in the country since the Philippine government revamped its foreign investment policy in March 2000 to enable overseas investment in the retail industry.

The joint venture, Watsons Personal Care Store (Philippines), Inc. has acquired the existing 61 health and beauty and drug stores under the SM Group to launch the popular Watson's concept nationwide.

Speaking at the official announcement today at the Podium store in Manila, one of the new Watsons outlets, ASW Group Managing Director Ian Wade said, "Most of you, including myself, will be too young to remember that the forerunner of A.S. Watson, The Canton Dispensary, operated in Manila from the 1883 to 1912 at the old original chinatown on Escolta Road. After a departure of 90 years, we are delighted to bring our success story back to the Philippines. This time we are bringing to you the Watsons Your Personal Store concept which is extremely popular with consumers in the region, including Hong Kong, Mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand.

"The new company has the combined value of ASW's international expertise and experience and SM's extensive local marketing knowledge and network of established outlets. Together, these bring an exciting new force to the country's retail industry."

The new company has re-branded existing stores under the popular 'Watsons Your Personal Store' name and will add another 15 new outlets in the first year to serve Filipino consumers nationwide.

The stores will bring to the Philippines a new "personal care" shopping concept, offering brands, service, and value in a combined pharmacy and health and beauty format.

"We believe that consumers will greatly enjoy the numerous benefits that have become synonymous with the Watsons name, including great value, dedication to consumer service, convenience, wide variety, and modern shopping environments," added Mr. Wade.

Speaking of the new joint venture, Teresita Sy-Coson, President of SM, said, "We were looking for a reputable global retail partner to further expand and enhance our market reach. Watsons with more than 1200 retail stores and a history of more than 150 years in the region, was the perfect choice."

"Watsons has a strong brand identity and a long-standing reputation for quality and innovation in the personal care store arena, which will enable us to increase opportunities in servicing the growing consumer market."

Dennis Casey, Managing Director of Watsons Philippines, said the joint venture demonstrated the company's strong confidence in the country's consumer market. "SM has provided the opportunity for ASW to expand further in Asia by establishing an important foothold in the Philippines, a relatively new and young market with the ideal target consumer."

"We will introduce three store formats of combined health and beauty stores; drugstores; and beauty/cosmetics departments in department stores. Our key target audience is the young consumer who is looking for brand and service value and an unrivalled diversity of products - attributes for which Watsons Your Personal Store is renowned Asia-wide," he said.

About A. S. Watson

ASW is an international retail and manufacturing business with operations in 17 countries in Asia and Europe. The Group operates over 1,200 retail stores, owns more than 20 water and juice brands, and employs 27,000 staff worldwide. It houses some of Asia's best known retail chains including PARKnSHOP, Fortress, Watsons Your Personal Store, Watson's Wine Cellar, and Nuance-Watson. The Group also has interests in the Connecticut-based Inc., the leading Internet travel e-commerce in the US, and just launched similar business model in Asia (

ASW is a member of the Hong Kong-based multinational conglomerate, Hutchison Whampoa Limited, which operates five core businesses in 36 countries: ports and related services; telecommunications; property and hotels; retail and manufacturing; and energy and infrastructure.

About SM

SM is a dynamic group of companies with core businesses in retail merchandising and shopping centers. Founded in 1958 by Henry Sy, Sr., it is today the largest retail group in the Philippines consisting of department stores, supermalls, as well as other retail outlets like supermarket,s appliance centers, hardware stores, and toy superstores that have become part of the lives of many Filipinos.

SM also has interests in property, the latest project being Tagaytay Highlands, and banking, including Banco de Oro Universal Bank.

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For further enquiries:
Watsons Philippines
Dennis Casey
Tel: (0916) 320-07-78
SM Group
Dennis Navarro
Tel: (632) 817-1243
Millie Dizon
Tel: (0918) 903-36-25