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  • About US - Superdrug History

  • 1964

    Ronald and Peter Goldstein, who had both spent several years in the grocery retailing industry, decided to implement their trading formulae and concepts and start a toiletry retailing business. Superdrug was incorporated in 1964 as 'Leading Supermarkets Limited' and adopted its present name later that year.


    The first Superdrug store opened on 26 April in Putney High Street.


    Three stores trading successfully; Putney, Croydon and Streatham. During this year, Superdrug acquired its first distribution warehouse in Wimbledon. Prior to the warehouse opening, suppliers had delivered directly to stores.


    Store opening expansion dictated a head office move to larger premises at West Molesey, with a warehouse capacity of 20,000 square feet.


    The Rite Aid Corporation, a US company operating a chain of drugstores on the east coast of America, acquired a 49% stake in Superdrug.


    Superdrug acquired Elgee Drugstores, a company operating a chain of five stores.


    Superdrug, now operating over 40 stores, moved its warehouse operation to premises at Hackbridge with an increased space capacity of 50,000 square feet. Computerised stock control was introduced.


    Superdrug, through accelerated store growth, acquired additional warehouse space of 16,000 square feet to service the 65 stores now operating.


    The Company acquired an eight acre site at Beddington Lane, Croydon, giving the opportunity of designing a purpose built distribution centre and head offices to cater for the expanding business. Superdrug was now trading through 77 stores.


    The first store in Wales opened in Wrexham.


    The Croydon distribution centre was completed, providing 120,000 square feet of warehouse space and head office accommodation. Superdrug opened its 100th store in Manchester.


    Superdrug, now operating 143 outlets, was floated on the USM stock market in February and received a spectacular welcome.


    Sales exceeded a record £ million in one week. An additional 31 new stores were opened and a 14 acre site was acquired in Wakefield to cope with the increasing distribution needs of the expanded business in the north. Croydon head office was extended and at the end of the year, Bishop Auckland became the company's 200th store.


    The Goldsteins' trading formula continued to demonstrate its success with 37 new stores opened and own-label products exceeding 24% of total sales. In addition, a new 200,000 square foot, semi-automated distribution centre was completed in Pontefract. The Company also established an in-house Design Studio and Quality Assurance Department. Superdrug opened its first store in Scotland bringing the store total to 253.


    Exactly two years after the company stock market flotation, Superdrug had doubled its store chain to a sizeable 289 outlets.


    In March, Superdrug agreed a £57 million takeover by Woolworth Holdings Plc (Kingfisher Plc) with Rite Aid relinquishing its shareholding. The terms of the acquisition laid out a clear strategy for Superdrug to accelerate its expansion programme by taking advantage of Woolworth Holdings' (Kingfisher Plc) financial assets and surplus premium high street property portfolio. Superdrug, now a major force on the UK high street, increased its store chain to 339 by the end of the year, trading in some 954,000 square feet of retail space and employing over 7,000 people.


    Woolworth Holdings Plc (Kingfisher Plc) acquired Tip Top Drugstores in January for £3 million. The 110 Tip Top outlets were concentrated in the North of England and Scotland. In March, Woolworth Holdings Plc (Kingfisher Plc) acquired Share Drug, a business comprising 145 drugstores located in the south, for £2 million. By the end of the year, Superdrug had established a market leading position within the high street toiletry sector, trading in 580 outlets and producing an annual turnover of £50 million. Excess properties resulting from store duplications in high street sites were sold. The Tip Top warehouse and distribution centre at Wetherby was closed and consolidated into Pontefract. The Share Drug distribution centre in Southampton was re-organised and computerised systems introduced. The business was now being serviced by three distribution centres.


    Woolworth Holdings Plc changed its name to Kingfisher Plc, establishing a new corporate identity autonomous to its retailing subsidiary companies. Superdrug's expansion rate continued, and in November Kingfisher acquired the Medicare chain of drugstores. The additional 86 Medicare stores were quickly incorporated into the Superdrug portfolio, increasing its retail trading space by 200,000 square feet in 681 outlets.


    Ronald and Peter Goldstein left Superdrug and Alan Smith was appointed Managing Director in March. He joined the company from Allied Lyons Plc where he was Managing Director of the Victoria Wine Company. With some of the Medicare sites sold off and store relocations/rationalisation programmes decreasing store numbers, the number of Superdrug stores reached 650.


    Superdrug opened its first store in Northern Ireland and subsequently developed a chain of nine stores in the region. The company also opened its first two perfumeries in Newcastle-upon-Tyne and Epsom, Surrey.


    Superdrug announced annual sales of £59m and profits of £4.6m for the trading year ending January 1992. Market share increased significantly from 7.8% to 8.4% in the toiletries sector. The Cheltenham store became the first Superdrug store with an in-store pharmacy. A further 18 perfumeries opened in stores nationwide. In August, Superdrug launched its No Animal Testing Charter.


    A total of 60 perfumeries were now open. The Bracknell store became the second Superdrug store with an in-store pharmacy.


    In March, the largest Superdrug store opened in Northampton measuring 8,700 sq.ft.


    Superdrug announced annual sales of £19.5m and profits of £8.1m for the trading year ending 28 January 1995. The company's rebranding and store refurbishment programme began, with the first four new look stores opening in Milton Keynes, Bristol, The Strand and Holborn. By December, the number of in-store pharmacies had increased to 48.


    Superdrug announced annual sales of £53.8m and profits of £1.1m for the trading year ending 3 February 1996. By April, the number of in-store pharmacies had increased to 60.


    Superdrug announced annual sales of £84.8m and profits of £2.4m for the trading year ending 31 January 1997. The number of in-store pharmacies increased to 128 and a total of 1,400 own brand products were launched during the year.


    Superdrug announced annual sales of £49.5m and profits of £1m for the trading year ending 31 January 1998. In June, Superdrug opened its first-ever Oxford Street store in the heart of London's West End. This new flagship site was the first UK high street health & beauty outlet to feature an integrated Hair Salon. The Hair Salon offers customers a premium salon environment, in a friendly, accessible format, and full menu of hairdressing services at great prices. In addition the store features a pharmacy for prescription dispensing and general healthcare advice. A consulting room is also available offering a wide range of healthcare services including osteopathy, chiropody, massage and reflexology.


    Superdrug announced annual sales of £98.5m and profits of £1.1m for the trading year ending 31 January 1999. In March, Superdrug opened its new look store in The Bluewater Shopping Centre, one of Europe's biggest shopping centre developments. By November, the number of in-store pharmacies had increased to 192.


    In February, Superdrug celebrated the opening of its 200th Pharmacy in Twickenham. In April, Liz Wright was appointed Managing Director. Also in April, Superdrug launched its first ever customer magazine, Spirit. Available in all 720 Superdrug stores, the free bi-monthly title, is published by River Publishing. The magazine brings alive the health and beauty retailer's lively and down-to-earth personality, featuring a mix of realistic and affordable beauty and fashion tips and ideas, plus makeovers, accessible healthcare advice and real-life reader stories. In September, Superdrug launched its web site, By November 2000, the number of in-store pharmacies had increased to 231.


    In July, Kingfisher completed the sale of Superdrug to Kruidvat Beheer BV and new stores opened in prime retail pitches generating a more indulgent health & beauty shopping experience.


    In February, Superdrug announced its biggest ever promotional initiative with the launch of the 'Big Deal' leaflet. The 'Big Deal' leaflet targets over 5.75 million households nationwide and reaches 1 in every 3 households in Superdrug's catchment area. The leaflet communicates all key activity happening at Superdrug including new lower prices, promotions and new product launches. In October, Superdrug's parent company, Kruidvat Holdings sold its retail interests to A.S. Watson, an international retailer and manufacturer, who is part of the multinational conglomerate, CK Hutchison Holdings (Hutchison Whampoa).


    In January 2003, Gerard Hazelebach replaced Liz Wright as managing director of Superdrug. Gerard joined Superdrug from ICI Paris XL, Kruidvat's perfumery business.
    In April 2003, the company teamed up with 3G to open the first 3 store within a Superdrug store, giving new and existing customers the ideal opportunity to experience video-mobiling (over 200 3 stores to date).
    In September 2003, Superdrug opened the doors to its first trial store that reflects the new brand concept in the Bullring Centre Development.


    Euan Sutherland appointed Chief Operating Officer and the start of Superdrug's five year plan to reposition itself as the UK's leading fashion led beauty & health retailer, an investment programme launched to refresh 85 per cent of the store chain.


    Superdrug announces its intention to have up to 1000 stores by the end of 2009.


    Announcement to open 35 new stores in 2006 with plans to move in to Southern Ireland. Euan Sutherland appointed CEO of AS Watson Health & Beauty UK. Superdrug launches its Summer Campaign to educate on skin cancer.


    A £46 million beauty investment programme launched giving 440 stores a beauty facelift during 2007 and in a further £23 million expansion, twelve stores received a new pink fascia treatment.


    April, Jeremy Seigal appointed CEO of AS Watson Health & Beauty UK.


    Superdrug launches its Superprices campaign. Links with Teenage Cancer Trust on its summer campaign with Leona Lewis as the face of the campaign.


    Superdrug announces plans to launch The Perfume Shop, shop within shops with its sister company from July 2010; Superdrug announces plans to launch a major Autumn TV campaign. All Superdrug Own Brand beauty and toiletry products accredited as cruelty free and carry BUAV leaping bunny symbol.


    Superdrug launches BeautyCard its first customer loyalty card. The company becomes the title sponsor of the CEW UK Beauty Awards to reward excellence in the industry. Joey Wat appointed AS Watson Health & Beauty UK Managing Director for Superdrug and Savers.


    New Superdrug fragrance counters launched offering specialist advice. Over £300k raised by Superdrug customers and colleagues for Teenage Cancer Trust.


    Marie Curie Cancer Care appointed Superdrug's charity partner for 2013 and 2014. A new TV Ad campaign The Superdrug Feeling is launched. Partners with UK skin cancer charity SKCin on the summer campaign launching the Sun Safe Schools awards scheme. Online Doctor is launched in July.


    Superdrug celebrates its 50th birthday! Peter Macnab is appointed Managing Director of Superdrug. Beauty Studio by Superdrug opens in Cardiff and the first Wellbeing store opens in Banbury.


    Travel vaccinations became available in 41 stores and the number of nurse-run clinics increased to 24. Seven new stores opened during 2015 as Superdrug’s estate expanded. Superdrug also opened its second Wellbeing store in Watford. Superdrug online offers delivery to the Republic of Ireland, and Irish customers can become a Health & Beautycard member for the first time. Online Opticians is launched in August.


    Superdrug launches its first subscription service offering razors. Over £2.5m now raised for Marie Curie by Superdrug, its colleagues and customers. Further beauty services available in store including Hair Extensions and Waxing, and Orly nail bars launch. Opened standalone Resource Recovery Unit at our Southern Distribution Centre to support our goals to recycle 85% of our waste by 2020.


    In February Superdrug Head Office moved to a new location in central Croydon. The 55,000 square foot building, spread over six floors, was designed to create a collaborative environment, encourage healthy lifestyles and support the future growth of the business.
    Superdrug opens up its online operation to customers in Denmark, Finland and Sweden allowing customers in the three Scandinavian countries to place orders on for international delivery.


    Superdrug launches Superdrug Mobile a great value new mobile phone network with great rewards for Health & Beautycard customers. The Beauty Services team launches ear piercing in selected stores, and Fosse Park opens a Beauty Services floor in Leicester’s Fosse Park which also includes a Barber Shop.

    This page updated January 2019

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