Holland & Barrett hires former Homebase boss as it eyes further growth
The group recorded its 38th consecutive quarter of growth.
Health and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett has appointed the former boss of Homebase and Argos as chairman, as it unveiled a year of growth.
The company announced that John Walden, the former chief executive of Home Retail Group, would work on a “strategic plan” for new growth.
Mr Walden was chief executive of Home Retail Group from 2014 to 2016, in which time he oversaw the sale of Homebase to Australia’s Wesfarmers.
The chain was sold the following year to Hilco for just £1, with retail analysts at the time slamming Wesfarmers’ takeover as a “disaster”.
Mr Walden was also responsible for the more successful sale of Argos to Sainsbury’s, which has helped boost the supermarket’s underlying profits.
He said that Holland & Barrett “must change quickly” to adapt to a fast-paced retail environment.
“Yet Holland & Barrett is a strong retail business with a trusted brand, and participating in a growing health and wellness sector,” he said.
“With this foundation, I am optimistic about our opportunities to develop winning strategies and continue to grow.”
Holland & Barrett was acquired by L1 Retail in 2017 for £1.8 billion.
The group has significantly expanded its store footprint and digital operations in recent years as consumers focus more on health and wellness, while vegan, gluten-free and other alternative diets gain popularity.
Group revenue was up 7.1% to £702.5 million in the year to the end of September, on the back of 66 new store openings.
There are now 1,077 stores around the world including 830 in the UK and Ireland.
Like-for-like sales increased by 3.9%, slowing slightly from the 4.6% rate seen in 2017. The group has now seen 38 straight quarters of consecutive sales growth.
Underlying earnings were up 1.3% to £152.1 million.
Chief executive Peter Aldis said: “Looking forward under our new owners, I am confident that we are well positioned to drive transformation in the face of digital disruption. We expect that 2019 will also be a year of continued investment in the business to provide our customers with the most trusted and innovative range of health and wellness solutions.”
Consumer trends helped the chain to sell more vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements, with sales up 15.3% in the UK and Ireland.
Sales of cosmetics and skincare also rose 10.2%.