Holland & Barrett is one of the United Kingdom's (UK) largest retail chains -- and yet relatively little is known about it. It has 1,000 stores, about as many as the nation's number two and three-largest supermarket chain's, Wal-Mart stores-owned Asda and Sainsbury's. Tesco is the number one retailer in the UK with about 1,700 stores of various formats in the country.
Unlike Asda, Sainsbury's and Tesco though, Holland & Barrett isn't a supermarket or combination food and general merchandise format chain. It does sell some foods though (health and natural foods), along with being the UK's top-seller of vitamins and nutritional supplements, which is its major product category.
Holland & Barrett (H&B), which just happens to be owned by an American company, NBTY Inc., a US-based manufacturer that distributes and retails vitamins and nutritional supplements and is listed on the New York Stock Exchange, is described by its new CEO Peter Aldis, a former Asda executive who joined H&B in October, as being "regarded as a bit beans and sandals."
U.S-based NBTY is one of the top marketers and sellers of vitamins and nutritional supplements in the world with sales of $2 billion annually. The corporation bought Holland & Barrett in 1997 from Lloyds Pharmacy.
Among the popular vitamin and nutritional supplement brands NBTY produces and distributes include: Rexall, Sundown, Solgar, met-Rx and others. It produces the Holland & Barrett store brand of vitamins and supplements for sale in the UK stores, as well as the GNC brand for the UK GNC banner stores.
NBTY also produces store brand or private label vitamins and supplements for numerous retailers and wholesalers, including Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
Of Holland & Barrett's 1,000 stores, around 600 are branded Holland & Barrett and 31 are GNC, a chain, like the one in the U.S., which sells sports nutrition goods, vitamins and supplements. Earlier this year the retailer bought the 335-store Julian Graves chain from Baugur, the Icelandic investor, giving it the 1,000 stores in the UK.
About a quarter of Holland & Barrett's sales come from vitamins, minerals and supplements 'VMS'). A fifth come from herbal remedies, and the rest from fresh & dried fruits, nuts, seeds and snacks. Other product categories include sports nutrition supplements, coffees, teas and beverages, and natural health and body care items, along with some natural and organic packaged food items. H&B is in the processes of launching a new store brand of organic household, health and body care items called called Dr. Organics, which CEO Aldis says will debut in the stores in February, 2009.
Holland & Barrett also offers online shopping in the UK, along with publishing and distributing for free a paper catalogue for consumers to use for mail order shopping the old fashion way.
The UK Telegraph.co.uk recently profiled Holland & Barrett's new CEO, Peter Aldis. He has big plans for the giant natural products chain. Read what some of those plans are here.