Image via WikipediaCentral Watson Co, the health and beauty store chain, will triple its investment budget in Thailand to 215 million baht this year.
Managing director Toby Anderson said the budget would be used to open new stores, upgrade the IT system, work on marketing activities, develop its own label and train staff.
"Our parent firm is still confident in the health and beauty business in Thailand and will keep investing over the next 10 to 20 years. Watsons has been here for 13 years and our budget this year is the highest since 2005," he said.
Watsons is available in only 42 provinces across the country and it plans to expand.
The company expects to open 15 new outlets this year compared to seven new stores last year. Of the total, two-thirds will be upcountry with the balance in Bangkok, bringing the total to 185 by year-end.
In 2009, Watsons achieved its growth target despite adverse economic conditions.
The company was displaying its confidence in the country's long-term prosperity by investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) system, store improvement and staff training, said Mr Anderson.
According to research by AGB Nielsen, sales for Watsons grew 5% last year, more than supermarket and hypermarket channels, in all key categories of skin care, hair care and cosmetics. This was partly because of the strength of its brand, he said.
The company launched 400 items under the Watsons brand last year with its 'Grape Bella' skin-care line contributing a sales value of 21 million baht. Demand for the Watsons brand rose by 25% last year so this year the company will add another 200 branded products.
"This year, we will continue to focus on skin-care categories with the introduction of at least one new product each quarter," said Mr Anderson.
Watsons also plans to focus more on identifying customer segmentation, using the CRM system and customer analysis to tailor promotions.
He said the global retail health and beauty market was resilient and growing in Asia. In Thailand, the youth segment is especially strong and is driving demand.