Holland & Barrett owner NBTY Europe is targeting £1bn of sales over the next five years following its takeover by US private equity firm Carlyle Group.
NBTY Europe, which also operates Julian Graves, GNC, De Tuinen in the Netherlands and Nature’s Way in Ireland, currently achieves sales of £415.7m. NBTY Europe chief executive Peter Aldis said: “We have strong plans to achieve £1bn sales over the next five years.”
The three UK brands - Holland & Barrett, confectionery and nuts retailer Julian Graves and sports nutrition retailer GNC - are trialling new concept stores, relaunching their websites and introducing loyalty schemes next year. The IT systems for the brands will also be overhauled. Further stores will be added to the two international chains.
In the year to September 30, NBTY Europe operating profit was £73.7m, an 8.3% hike, while Holland & Barrett operating profit was up 14.7% to £59.8m. Julian Graves has returned to profit, with an operating profit of £2.4m, up from a loss of £1.5m the previous year.
Aldis has hired new heads for the three brands to push growth. Jonathan Payne heads up Holland & Barrett, joining from Aurum, Kyle Rowe, previously at Ann Summers, leads Julian Graves, and Richie Thomas heads up GNC, promoted from regional sales manager at NBTY.
Holland & Barrett opened its 600th store last week in London’s Moorgate, which is its third new concept store, following Bury St Edmunds and Cheltenham earlier in the year. The store includes a ‘food to go’ cafe style area. A further trial store will open on Oxford Street in November. Aldis said: “The first two trial stores have exceeded our expectations.” Aldis is also considering standalone shops for its own-label natural skincare range Dr Organic. He said: “We will try Dr Organic in a shop-in-shop first, perhaps on a mezzanine, but we don’t make enough of the range in stores.”
Aldis said at Julian Graves - which the group bought from Baugur in 2008 - “progress has been slow as we were waiting for the acquisition to be cleared by the competition authorities” but he added: “We have made the chain profitable, and we have huge growth plans.”
Aldis said he had closed down Julian Graves’ warehouse, packaging operation and head office and centralised the functions. 90 shops have been converted to either Holland & Barrett or GNC, leaving the chain with about 250 stores.
“We started with a blank slate for Julian Graves and have introduced the strapline ‘a little bit of what you fancy’ because many of the products are more indulgent such as retro sweets and baking items, and that seems to be working,” he said.
Three new concept stores are due to open early next year in Ely, Kidderminster and Lancaster. Aldis said: “We’re going to try lots of theatrical things such as chocolate fountains and see what works.” He added that Julian Graves would start expanding once the concept is right but “at the moment sales are flat and we need to make sure we’re going in the right direction”.
GNC currently has 45 shops with a further eight in negotiations and new concept stores are planned for Romford and Manchester. Aldis said: “The stores will be more interactive with areas such as a ‘hydration station’ for sports drinks.”