Holland & Barrett aims to achieve growth in Europe as it targets 300 stores in Belgium and Holland.

Peter Aldis, chief executive of NBTY Europe, which owns the health food and beauty retailer, said it aims for up to 250 stores in Holland, where it currently operates 135 stores through its De Tuinen chain.

“The health food market is under-represented there so we can grow quicker,” Aldis said.

Meanwhile, there is potential for 80 to 120 stores in Belgium through its Essenza business, which it bought last year and currently trades from 13 stores, although Aldis said Holland & Barrett aims to open 80 to 90 stores for the time being.

“We will open more stores in the UK than in Holland and Belgium together but proportionally it’s more. It is easier for us to find opportunities in Holland and Belgium,” he added.

NBTY Europe plans to open 65 retail sites across its UK and Ireland estate, which includes its GNC fitness fascia, in the current financial year.

Aldis added that the aspirations for Holland & Barrett’s franchise business, which is present in China, Singapore and Gibraltar, are “huge”. It aims to open stores in Quwait and Malaysia.

Aldis spoke to Retail Week as Holland & Barrett revealed its results for the year to September 30, 2013, which do not cover its European business.

The retailer, which operates 664 UK stores and 72 franchises, revealed pre-tax profits jumped 13.3% to £84.3m in the year, while sales increased 4.3% to £349.6m.

He revealed in the first half of the curre nt year total sales at Holland & Barrett jumped 7%. “We’re having a solid year,” he added.

Aldis added that the wider group, which includes its European business, performed “equally well” last year.

In documents filed at Companies House Holland & Barrett said: “Both the activity in the year and the year-end financial position of the company are extremely strong despite the economic trading conditions currently being experienced within the retail sector.”

Holland & Barrett said it has developed a “specialist reputation” in a fragmented market.

In the year, the retailer focused on training staff to NVQ-level, creating own-brand products, promoting products throught its Rewards 4 Life loyalty scheme and investing in systems and IT to become a “truly multichannel” retailer.