Naturhouse eyes Irish market for plus-size profit
Spanish-listed healthy eating business taps into demand for weight loss products, writes Gavin McLoughlin
Spanish-listed weight-loss business Naturhouse has opened its first Irish retail outlet as it seeks to capitalise on Ireland's obesity problem.
The business aims to develop 50 outlets over the next five years, roughly split between company-owned stores, franchisees, and corner points of sale in pharmacies.
The company has 2,353 outlets in 33 countries. Its model is a combination of professional advice and products. The starting point is a consultation with a nutritionist and then customers are provided with a diet plan.
The master franchise for the Irish business is held by PharmaSupport, a consultancy that aims to help small pharmacy owners and groups run their businesses more efficiently.
The move to Ireland is backed by a group of investors led by Paolo Iacovelli, managing director of Irish pharmacy recruitment agency Conex Group.
"Our objective is to make Naturhouse the most recognised brand for weight management in Ireland by 2022. We also want to have 60 points of sale in the next three or four years," said Juan Fravega, PharmaSupport founder and Naturhouse Ireland chief executive.
He said the company was investing €600,000 over the next three years to try and achieve this objective.
"The economy in Ireland has been very good over the last number of years, better than most European countries. We're also aware that Ireland has a significant issue with obesity and people being overweight," Fravega said.
The company will look to add skin-care products, ready meals and food-intolerance testing to its offering as the Irish business develops. It said an increased "health care consciousness" in Ireland was also part of its reason for setting up here.
Naturhouse was founded by Spanish businessman Felix Revuelta, who travelled to Ireland for the launch last week at the company's outlet in the Swan Centre in Rathmines, Dublin.
"The pace of openings in Ireland means we can consolidate our presence in the English-speaking market, where we already have stores in the United States and the United Kingdom. Excellent macroeconomic forecasts also mean we can be highly optimistic about the company's performance in the Irish market," Revuelta said.
He said the growing weight problem in developed economies was a problem of income and consumption. "In the past people used to be more active. We eat too much and we move too little, and that's creating the excess weight basically."
Naturhouse, listed on the Spanish Stock Exchange, has an annual turnover of around €100m and around 6.5 million customers. It opened its first store in the Spanish city of Vitoria in 1992.
Revuelta, its chairman, claimed the potential market has no limit for the business because of the current problems with weight.
The company had earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of €25.6m in the first nine months of thus year.
It said the Spanish and French markets were growing "due to the positive tactical decision to implement marketing and staff restructuring measures in the two markets".
"Meanwhile, sales in Italy and Poland eased during the period. In the former this was the outcome of weak retail sales, along with adverse climate factors in the first half of the year.
"The latter market, meanwhile, is still affected by the transition in Poland's management, which concluded with the appointment of two area managers under the direct supervision of Group vice-chairman, Kilian Revuelta. With this move, we expect Poland to return to growth in the coming quarters, thanks to new sales policies being implemented in the market."
The company is valued at €250m, with the shares down from around €4.80 at the start of the year to around €4.05 now.
Sunday Indo Business