Russian Tycoon buys expanding Holland & Barrett

Europe’s biggest health & Wellness chain Holland & Barrett will be bought by a Russian tycoon for £1.77bn after growing its sales by 90% since 2010.


Holland & Barrett - Holland & Barrett


The UK-based business, which is also a major retailer of organic and natural ingredients-based skincare, bodycare and make-up, is being bought by L1 Retail, which is controlled by Mikhail Fridman. CEO Peter Aldis wil continue to lead the chain post-acquisition.

AS Watson, which owns the Superdrug and Perfume Shop beauty chains, was also reported to have been eyeing the business and had hoped to bag it for around £1bn.

Currently owned by US investment firm Carlyle, which bought it as part of a larger deal in 2010, 147-year-old H&B has been expanding its footprint both in its domestic market and abroad in the last seven years.

It currently has 1,150 locations, in 16 countries but operates mainly in the UK, China, India, the Netherlands and UAE, although it has been growing its footprint in Scandinavia. It employs over 4,000 staff.

The company has been investing heavily in marketing and in growing its online operations as well as its physical stores, all of which drove last year’s revenues to £610m. And although we don’t know how profitable it is, the company did say it has seen 32 quarters on the run of positive comparable sales.

Partnerships have been a key part of this growth with the company having sites in UK Tesco stores as well as linking with Apollo Hospital Group in India, and AS Watson in Hong Kong. The latter was clearly impressed with he business it was doing and saw plenty more potential as it mulled a bid for the firm.

L1 Retail Managing Partner Stephan DuCharme said: "Holland & Barrett is a clear market leader in the UK health and wellness retail market, with attractive growth positions in other European and international markets, and growing online presence, with a leading customer loyalty programme and 10m active cardholders.”

And CEO Peter Aldis said the company has upgraded much of its core store portfolio to concept stores “to deliver additional in-store theatre and increased customer engagement”. He added that new products launched through its ethical sourcing programme “have also been a key growth driver, helping to underpin our substantial investment to gain presence across an increasingly global Health and Wellness market.”

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