Holland & Barrett edged up profits and posted its 38th consecutive quarter of like-for-like sales growth as former Argos boss John Walden is appointed chairman.

The health and wellbeing specialist has appointed Walden, who has been a non-executive director since the business was acquired by L1 Retail last June, as chairman.

This marks Walden’s first chairmanship; he was previously the chief executive of Argos and later its then-parent company Home Retail Group. He exited the business after four years in 2016 following the sales of Homebase to Wesfarmers and Argos to Sainsbury’s.

Speaking of his appointment, Walden said: ”I am delighted to work more closely with Holland & Barrett as its new chairman.

“Like other retailers, it is facing into rapid changes in its markets including accelerating digital channel usage, rising customer service standards, increasing product commoditisation, and technological innovation of new products and services.

“It must change quickly and substantially to keep pace with its consumers and markets. Yet Holland & Barrett is a strong retail business with a trusted brand, and participating in a growing health and wellness sector. With this foundation, I am optimistic about our opportunities to develop winning strategies and continue to grow.”

Positive results

His appointment coincides with the retailer’s results for the year to 30 September 2018.

Holland & Barrett posted a 1.3% increase in group operating profit to £152.1m, bolstered by a 7.1% boost in revenue to £702.4m and a 3.9% increase in like-for-like sales.

International sales rose 9.3% to £140.6m while revenue across the UK and Ireland went up 6.5% to £561.8m.

Digital sales grew 32% in the year.

The specialist retailer opened 34 new stores across the UK and Ireland during the period, taking its overall estate to 830 stores and concessions.

In total, Holland & Barrett operates 1,077 stores across five countries.

Chief executive Peter Aldis said: “I am pleased by the strong performance in the business this year.

“I am delighted that we have managed to attract a number of strong hires to the executive board over the last 12 months and am pleased by how well the team has come together in a short space of time.

“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.”