Holland & Barrett’s chief financial officer Chris Keen said its new owners L1 Retail have ‘taken the shackles off’ its international expansion ambitions.
The health food specialist has snapped up Swedish retailer Hälsa För Alla and its 12 stores across Stockholm, quadrupling its bricks-and-mortar presence in the country.
The retailer, which saw investment hit its bottom line in its full-year results in July, aims to open 500 stores across Scandinavia by 2021 – but Keen said that this number could end up being higher.
“The potential is huge, Sweden is already well ahead of budget but if we can accelerate it even faster we’ll blow our 2021 numbers out of the water,” said Keen.
“Even though we’ve recently been sold to L1 we don’t actually have an restrictions on our funding,” he said, adding that Holland & Barrett’s new owners had “effectively taken the shackles off” in comparison with previous parent company NBTY.
The retail investment vehicle snapped up Holland & Barrett in June for £1.8bn.
Group international director Kyle Rowe said that the retailer had ”aggressive growth plans in Scandinavia” so would look to make more more acquisitions to expand its estate and keep local expertise, but also did not rule out snapping up individual stores to fuel expansion.
The retailer also plans to ramp up its bricks-and-mortar presence in the Netherlands and Belgium, where it plans to open 25 and 10 new stores a year respectively.
Holland & Barrett has drafted in retail agency Colliers to identify suitable stores of expansion and Keen said they could operate 100 stores in each country.
The retailer is also eyeing a bricks-and-mortar roll out in Germany, Italy, Spain and France – but Keen stressed that its ambitious expansion plans had not been impacted either way by Brexit.
“We had this strategy before Brexit was voted on, but it hasn’t slowed us down,” he said.
“The key for Brexit is to be agile, if you handle it right then it is neither good nor bad for business.”