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Watsons to have 1,000 mainland stores
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Health and beauty retailer Watsons plans to more than double the number of its stores on the Chinese mainland by 2011.

The retailer has opened 450 outlets in the mainland market since 1989, and will increase that to 1,000 by 2011 to cover nearly 100 cities, Christian Nothhaft, managing director of Watsons China, said in Shanghai yesterday.

"The second-quarter economic figures published by the National Bureau of Statistics showed that consumers' confidence has begun to recover, so we are confident about the retail market on the mainland," Nothhaft said.

Watsons opened its 450th outlet on the Chinese mainland yesterday in Shanghai's Super Brand Mall, and by the end of this year the number of outlets will grow to 500 to cover 70 cities.

"We will focus on second-tier and third-tier cities and east China is a key area for our development," he said.

Sales in east China area accounted for more than 30 percent of Watsons' sales across the country, and 60 more outlets will be opened in the area next year.

"Watsons reported double digit growth in the first seven months of this year from a year earlier. The performance in April was weak as consumers' confidence went down, but sales came back very quickly in May and June," Nothhaft said.

The wholly owned subsidiary of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa Ltd maintained a nearly 10 percent annual growth in revenue from 2005 to this year.

(Shanghai Daily July 23, 2009)

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