AS Watson, the owner of Superdrug, The Perfume Shop and Savers, has unveiled a £40m financial support scheme for employees affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

The health and beauty giant said the initiative was designed to ensure “no member of staff should be worse off financially because of the crisis”.

The retailer will ensure full pay for parents who are unable to work remotely or in another business position as a result of school closures, and full pay, backdated to March 16, for anyone unable to work due to sickness or self-isolation.

AS Watson said any staff affected by distribution centre, service or store closures would either be redeployed or, if that is not possible, paid in full.

All pay increases and bonuses due this month or next will also be honoured.

Superdrug, Savers and The Perfume Shop employ 18,000 people across 1,550 stores.

AS Watson group chief operating officer and chief executive, Asia and Europe, Malina Ngai said: “In this challenging time, our top priority is to look after our people and our customers. Our brands are built by our people. Without their hard work and dedication, we would not be able to serve our customers so well. Financially, it’s not an easy decision, but it is the right decision under such circumstances.”

AS Watson Health and Beauty UK chief executive Peter Macnab said: “The support package aims to give our colleagues financial reassurance. They are working very hard to keep our stores open and to ensure customers’ online purchases are delivered.

”We are incredibly proud of our teams who are dedicated to ensuring our customers can continue to access important health and personal care essentials, as well as prescriptions, in such unprecedented times.”