Holland & Barrett will retain the Julian Graves fascia in the majority of stores following clearance last Friday from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) for its takeover of the chain.

NBTY Europe, Holland & Barrett’s parent company, bought fruit and nuts specialist Julian Graves, comprising 345 stores, from Baugur last September, but has only just taken the reins after a protracted OFT investigation.

Holland & Barrett legal director Roger Craddock said: “We have every intention of running Julian Graves as a separate division. The point is that, although we acquired it last September, because of the OFT enquiry we haven’t had access to any financial information.”

He said that at the time of the acquisition a number of Julian Graves shops had been on the market. Because these have not been sold and buyers are in short supply, some rebadging might take place from Julian Graves to Holland & Barrett stores. He also said that because of some overlap between the Holland & Barrett and Julian Graves offers, one of the objectives would be to create difference between the chains. However, any changes remain a “work in progress”.

Retail Knowledge Bank senior partner Robert Clark said: “I think there is a considerable distance between the two brands and Holland & Barrett would have to be very careful before tinkering.”

He believed that because both chains specialise in discretionary product, both may be finding life tough during the recession.

Holland & Barrett has 544 eponymous shops in the UK and Ireland and 71 De Tuinen stores in the Netherlands.