I’m lucky enough that in my role at work, I get to go to a lot of the CEW(UK) beauty industry talks and mentoring sessions. This morning I popped along to the presentation by Joey Wat, Managing Director of Superdrug about her career and it wasn’t until I was listening and thinking about it that I realised Superdrug has actually come quite a long way from being the hot, cheap discount shop I remember from my local precinct! Anyway, I found it quite interesting so wanted to share it on here.
Joey began by outlining her humble beginnings, describing her early years growing up in a very small village in southern China where boys were always deemed more important than girls. In this village, Joey’s grandmother was the only midwife, and Joey credited her as one of her key inspirations who instilled the values of positivity and focus which have helped her get to where she is today.
At 8 years old, Joey and her family moved to Hong Kong where she and her siblings all worked in factories whilst studying at school. School was a great escape for Joey and she was determined to excel quickly. Her enthusiasm for academia saw her complete her degree before undertaking an MBA in America. She became the first girl in her village to hold a degree in 100 years; an achievement she hoped helped to inspire a better attitude towards women in her culture.
Moving to the UK in 2004, Joey took on the daunting task of transforming the Savers brand, where at the time only 9 out of 250 stores were making profit. Employing her key mantras of positivity, focus, determination and problem solving, Joey eventually managed to ensure that stores were profit building.
In January 2012, Joey took over 860 Superdrug stores in the UK and has been committed to helping the high street evolve. There are a number of ways that Joey and her team have been attempting to drive footfall back to the high street and into Superdrug, for example investing in Superdrug stores to create a more appealing store environment. By the end of 2013, over 500 stores will have been updated with the new look. Joey focuses on both popular and declining high streets and she revealed that there is always a way to improve stores, even with low budgets.
As well as this, Joey is improving the Superdrug ‘beauty experience’, where she is targeting the product offerings and developing the store services. This has led to Superdrug introducing its first automatic spray tan booth in Sheffield as well as expanding Bourjois nail bars and threading services in stores across the country. New brands, such as Blowpro, B. and Cheeky, will also be introduced whilst two concept stores are being designed for 2014.
Investments have equally gone into staff and training, ensuring that the level of service draws customers back. The Superdrug management team makes an effort to visit stores and get involved in every level of the day-to-day workload in order to connect with both the customers and ground level staff.
The internet has been another key focus for Joey and the team pride themselves on credible content on their website which helps retain customer interaction. The website has been invaluable in deciding which products and brands suit the Superdrug customer and new launches will often begin online before hitting the stores in order to ascertain the reaction. In a fortnight, Superdrug will also be launching a ‘click and collect’ service to further encourage footfall into the bricks and mortar stores.
Joey finished her talk by looking ahead to Superdrug‘s 50th Anniversary next year, hinting that there will be some exciting surprises to look out for in 2014.