Belfast Telegraph

Superdrug owner set to create 1,000 jobs in new expansion

The owner of high street chains Superdrug, The Perfume Shop and Savers is set to create over 1,000 new jobs over the next year as it presses ahead with expansion plans.

Superdrug plans to open 30 new stores, Savers 45 and The Perfume Shop 13 after the firms reported stellar growth in 2016, defying the gloom hanging over much of the high street.

Under the plans, approximately 600 jobs will be created at Superdrug, 450 at discount health and beauty firm Savers and 78 at The Perfume Shop.

The trio are owned by AS Watson, which is ultimately controlled by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing.

Dominic Lai, AS Watson's managing director, said: "We are under a lot of pressure, with Brexit uncertainty and sterling going down, but we will continue to invest in the UK."

High street sales have been flattened since the Brexit vote, with the collapse in the pound hitting both businesses and consumers by increasing import costs and in turn shop prices.

Nevertheless, Superdrug delivered a 41% rise in pre-tax profits to £80.4 million in 2016, with sales up 10.4% to £1.2 billion and like-for-like sales up 7.8%.

Savers, meanwhile, notched up sales of £416.7 million last year and a £36.3 million pre-tax profit, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Superdrug has 790 stores in UK and Ireland where it employs 13,500 people, Savers has 380 and The Perfume Shop 250.

Mr Ka-Shing, Hong Kong's richest man, backed Britain remaining in the European Union and last year warned that the fallout of Brexit will cause years of pain for both parties.

Under Mr Ka-Shing's CK Hutchison conglomerate, the tycoon owns vast swathes of UK infrastructure and he is one of the biggest investors in the country.

His empire contains the Three mobile network, Felixstowe Port, Eversholt Rail Group and Northumbrian Water.

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