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Superdrug Stores PLC (trading as Superdrug) is the second largest health and beauty retail chain in the United Kingdommarker (behind Boots) and it is the sixth largest overall (behind Boots, Tescomarker, Sainsbury'smarker, Asda and Morrisons).

Superdrug is a national company with over 905 stores in the UK employing over 13,000 people within its retail outlets. The stores serve over 4.5 million customers each week with over £1 billion per year. Its mission is to provide up-to-the-minute health and beauty products.

Superdrug stocks over 10,000 products in its stores including vitamins, toiletries, drinks and snacks, photographic film accessories, newspapers, magazines, beauty electricals and household accessories, however some stores do not stock all of these products.

Superdrug's own brand manufactures do not commission animal testing on any own brands, products or ingredients, although they no longer guarantee that these ingredients have not been tested on animals by their suppliers.


Superdrug was founded in 1964, under the name of Leading supermarkets limited, by the Goldstein brothers in London, both of whom had experience working in the grocery retail industry. The business kept this name until 1966 when it was officially changed to Superdrug. It was in the same year that the company opened their first outlet in Putneymarker, Londonmarker.

The chain grew rapidly and expanded to a chain of 40 stores by the early 1970s and in 1971, The Rite Aid Corporation, an Americanmarker drugstore chain, acquired 49% of the business.

In 1981, there were 100 Superdrug stores in the United Kingdommarker and they opened their 11,148 m² (120,000 ft²) distribution centre and office complex at Beddington Lane in Croydonmarker. This particular distribution centre, closed in July 2007 and the southern distribution operation moved to Dunstable, although the head office remains in Croydon. The northern distribution operates from Pontefractmarker.

In 1983 the business was floated on London's Unlisted Securities Market stock market.

In 1987, Superdrug was sold to Woolworth Holdings (now known as Kingfisher plc) for £57 million. This allowed accelerated growth of the brand through utilization of Kingfisher's surplus high street property portfolio and substantial financial assets. In this year Superdrug acquired Tip-Top, a discount drugstore chain which had a large presence in the north of Englandmarker and Scotlandmarker, and ShareDrug, a southern based chain. These acquisitions and a continually aggressive expansion programme saw the chain grow to 600 outlets throughout the UK.

Superdrug continued to grow over the next 8 years increasing profitability and market share. In 1995, the company began a rebranding programme which saw it leave behind its discount heritage and move upmarket, with a new corporate identity - under the banner "the real beauty is the price" — and new larger stores in prime retail locations.

This led to a marked increase in prices in order to fund a higher cost base. This left the chain vulnerable to attack from new discount chains such as Savers and Wilkinson, who were rapidly expanding at the time and the supermarkets such as Tescomarker and Asda who were growing their presence in the high margin non-food sector.

Facing increasing pressure from supermarkets and new discount chains Superdrug was sold to Kruidvat, a drugstore operator from continental Europe to allow Kingfisher to focus on its DIY and electrical chains.

Kruidvat was subsequently sold to AS Watson, the retail and manufacturing business of the Hong Kongmarker conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa in 2002. AS Watson are also the parent company of Savers, the UK's number three drugstore chain.

In 2003, Superdrug, in conjunction with Hutchison's international branding function (behind brands such as PowWow and Orange), launched another rebranding campaign which saw all stores being rebranded in the new "you star" style.

A store-by-store review was conducted as part of this exercise and many of Superdrug's smaller stores were converted to the Savers format. Following successful trials, approximately 200 branches of Savers are currently being converted into the Superdrug format.

In 2006, Superdrug entered the Republic of Irelandmarker.

In 2007 as well as the chain of stores having grown to over 900, it was announced that Superdrug was the largest growing fragrance retailer in the UK and celebrities such as Kelly Brook and the Beckhams have been launching new perfumes instore.

Now some stores have been rebranded as "next generation" stores, the first of which opened in Uxbridge. These focus on cosmetics and fragrance above everything else as well as being very hightech using plasma screens throughout. Its been announced that Superdrug plan to create 150 more next generation stores in 2008 .


In December 2007 Superdrug was forced to withdraw a women's punch bag following complaints from anti-domestic violence campaigners. The man shaped product encouraged women to insert a photo of a male in the punch bag's face and had an arrow pointing at the groin stating - "kick him here". The Mankind Initiative said it was disgraceful that a national retailer like Superdrug should be openly selling products encouraging domestic violence against men. Following the complaints the retailer withdrew the product immediately and promised to donate any profits from sales of the item to The Mankind Initiative.


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