No one shops like Hong Kongers. Even during the COVID-19 era, they have continued to shop online and in person in one of the most competitive retail environments in the world. It is no surprise that this retail hotspot attracts people who love to connect consumers to their daily bread and their little luxuries.
The world’s largest international health and beauty retailer, A.S. Watson Group (ASW), has its roots and headquarters in this super shopping city. It needs to attract and train the best in the city to become the best in the world. The A.S. Watson Group Retail Academy is crucial to achieving that goal.
Established with the cooperation of The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU), the Retail Academy has seen over 3,900 students graduate since its establishment in 2013. Working with PolyU, it has created a series of programmes intensely focused on the art, science and engineering of retail.
The Retail Academy programmes have been created with the support and blessing of the Education Bureau, under the auspices of its Qualifications Framework (QF), and bear the imprimatur of the Hong Kong Retail Management Association. With the aim of promoting lifelong learning, the QF supports the creation and accreditation of education programmes with clearly understood standards that students and employers alike can refer to. Standards awarded range from Level 1 to Level 7. A Level 5 programme is the equivalent of an undergraduate degree at a local university, demanding the application of a high level of knowledge and skills to solve problems and innovate in the relevant sector.
Programmes can be very specific, depending on where ASW managers work. A staff member at Watsons may start with a Beauty Retailing course before moving on to a Health and Fitness Retailing course. An initiate at PARKnSHOP needs to take the foundation courses on Meat (Chinese) Retailing and Meat (Western) Retailing, and Cheese and Deli Retailing before advancing to a Level 3 food retailing accreditation. At FORTRESS, Electronic and Electrical Retailing is a popular choice. But all programmes culminate in the Level 5 Advanced Diploma in Retail Store Management in their respective arena.
That Level 5 diploma is unique; the Academy hosts the only Level 5 accredited Chinese retail programmes in Hong Kong. Promising students are supported with tuition and time off from regular duties to attend classes at PolyU. This pays off for participants, as approximately 75% of graduates of the first cohort of Level 4 and Level 5 programmes were promoted within a year.
A series of programmes intensely focused on the art, science and engineering of retail.
Maurice Low’s enthusiasm for the grape led him to Watson’s Wine. He took professional wine tasting courses and was accepted into the company’s Supervisor Trainee programme. His passion saw him backed by his manager to complete the Level 4 and Level 5 retail programmes with the Retail Academy. That learning has practical applications, as Maurice has worked to tightly integrate sales and marketing data and online and offline (O+O) tools to design in-store elements that delight customers and dramatically improve upselling results across O+O channels.
Roy Tsang is Watsons Hong Kong’s Operations Manager responsible for over 130 stores across Hong Kong and neighbouring Macau. His rise at Watsons was buoyed by a Diploma in Professional Retail Management from the Retail Academy. Earlier in life, he had completed vocational programmes but the Retail Academy made it possible for him to go to the next level in his career.
It changed his thinking about teamwork on a philosophical level, emphasising a ‘flying geese paradigm’ of cooperation in which all team members elevate each other when they work together. Even customers can support their own shopping. Roy successfully implemented self-checkout services in stores that increased efficiency and moved shoppers through the checkout process more quickly.
Often, what is learned in the classroom can have immediate practical application. Kevin Ng attended hotel schools in Switzerland and Australia. As an Assistant Store Manager in ASW’s high-end international grocery store GREAT, his High Diploma in Retail Management – Supermarket Chain brought him specific knowledge he needed while still in the programme. Kevin’s class project became the ‘grEAT to Go’ app, created with both colleague collaboration and customer input. After three months of testing, it was launched and subsequently reduced waiting time at the Salad Bar and improved efficiency during the peak hours of operation.
These rising stars may, in the future, join another ASW initiative programme for upper-level leadership and strategy skills: the ASW Agile Leadership programme. Conducted in partnership with the globally renowned Ivey Business School at Western University, Canada, elite Executive Master of Business Administration (EMBA) professors work closely with ASW executives at Ivey’s Hong Kong campus.
The rigour and relevance of the Retail Academy programme are recognised internally and externally, making it highly valued by the students and the ASW managers fortunate enough to work with the graduates. For those who have the passion to pursue their studies, the Retail Academy is their rocket ship to success.
The rigour and relevance of the A.S. Watson Group Retail Academy programme are recognised internally and externally.
Superdrug’s nurses are taking on the toughest COVID-19 has to offer by volunteering to serve on their nation’s front lines, fighting the disease.
COVID-19 may be invisible to the eye, but not to scientists working with Northumbrian Water to trace its spread by sampling wastewater.
Team Watsons Water got creative and worked round the clock to deliver life-saving PPE to Hongkongers.
The Li Ka Shing Foundation sprang into action early in the coronavirus pandemic to provide desperately needed personal protective equipment to medical staff.
High-performance management at HK Electric is supercharged through education delivered by a host of internal and external professors at the HK Electric Institute.
Tactical donations make a difference to help tackle one, or even several, problems. But a series of strategic donations will bolster the entire biological, bioengineering and biomedical establishment in Hong Kong with world-class platforms and integrative thinking.
Vanishing bee populations are a major problem for global agriculture. 3 Austria’s 5G network is a key part of a tech solution that puts beekeepers ‘inside’ their hives to solve problems for Man’s invaluable helpers.
Port of Felixstowe’s 5G plans not only put the power of massive dockside cranes in the delicate digits of desk-driving derrick directors, but also connect a legion of sensors to help train AI that could save Hutchison Ports millions of pounds in maintenance efficiency.
5G is a platform to build dreams on and 3 Hong Kong is helping dreamers to climb on board. It works with small businesses and the community to help them overcome COVID-19 challenges and to unite their artistic vision, with an eye on the stars.
The Port of Felixstowe is leading the hydrogen revolution building in the UK. It aims to transform not only its own operations but the regional eco-economy too. First, the Port – then trains, trucks and homes will follow.
The UK aims to decarbonise the entire rail network. Eversholt Rail, a UK rail company, is leading the way in providing zero-emission hydrogen-powered trains for the UK. Trainspotting is about to get a whole lot greener.
Australian Gas Infrastructure Group is proving itself a public ally by greening the gas supply of Australian homes and taking the first steps to deliver 100% emission-free hydrogen to replace gas.
Watsons’ ninth-generation store design ethos is transforming stores into experiential spaces, making the most of their O+O strategy and aligning Watsons with customers’ green hearts. Delivering human connection and a commitment to environmental stewardship is incorporated into features in stores from Hong Kong to Türkiye.
Designing 21st-century ports requires that operators cater to the demands posed by increasingly enormous container ships. Use of autonomous vehicles and AI cranes and vehicles drives efficiency. The complex dance of goods and containers at a modern port only happens when designers set the stage for success.
Power plant design demands that everyone — from staff and neighbours to dolphins and birds — is kept safe. HK Electric and Canadian Power may be an ocean apart, but both have ingenious design elements and technology that enable them to take on explosive fuels and turn them into a safe stream of electricity, powering people’s lives and entire economies.
The promise of telemedicine is being delivered by A.S. Watson from the UK to Asia. Patients can jump the queue to see doctors in minutes and get home delivery of medicines. The days of reading year-old magazines at the doctor’s clinic are done – online medicine is being delivered NOW!
PharusDx, a CK Life Sciences and CK Hutchison investee, is developing a test that would provide fast, accurate diagnosis of not one but multiple types of cancer – all from a single blood sample. And it is using AI to do it.
HUTCHMED’s global Phase III registration trial of its colorectal cancer-fighting drug, fruquintinib, aims to gain the regulatory approvals needed to bring it to cancer patients around the world. A 14-country study is the next step in bringing new options to doctors and new hope to families struggling with cancer.