Holland & Barrett nets GNC in £7.5m package

Holland & Barrett has added more than 50 stores to its portfolio with the£7.5 million acquisition of Health & Diet Group from Dutch-owned Royal Numico NV.

The deal gives the health food specialist 49 GNC stores in the UK, plus seven US Army base outlets in Europe. GNC has annual sales of£30 million.

The package also includes Manchester-based wholesale brand and packaging operation FSC, which has an annual turnover of£8 million from sales to independent health food stores and pharmacies.

Holland & Barrett managing director Peter Aldis said the purchase highlights the retailer's determination to expand in the UK and Europe.

He said: 'GNC will provide additional benefits, with one obvious area of expertise being sports nutrition, which we will endeavour to develop.

Although it will be kept as a separate business, potential synergies will be explored.'

Holland & Barrett, which is also buying Ahold-owned chain DeTuinen, is the number one specialist health food retailer in Europe, and these latest acquisitions will take store and franchise numbers to more than 550.

Across Europe, Holland & Barrett takes about 20 per cent of vitamins, minerals and supplement sales compared with nearly 30 per cent at market leader Boots.

Retail Knowledge Bank research director Robert Clark said there would be long-term growth in the health foods sub-sector. 'GNC will give Holland & Barrett economies of scale and takes out another competitor,' he said.