Holland & Barrett has opened its first dedicated natural beauty floor to attract younger customers.

The store, which opened in Leicester’s Highcross Centre last Friday, comprises 1,200 sq ft on the ground floor housing Holland & Barrett’s traditional vitamins, foods and natural remedies, and 600 sq ft on a mezzanine carrying a natural beauty section.

The products include Holland & Barrett’s own brand Dr Organics, plus other beauty brands including A’kin, Burt’s Bees and Lavera. All products are free from chemicals such as parabens and sodium laurel sulphates.

Holland & Barrett chief executive Peter Aldis said: “In the last three years our toiletries have shown very strong growth and we are leading the way in natural beauty. In countries like France natural beauty accounts for something like 50% of the market but we’ve only just scratched the surface here and we’re the only retailer to offer it.”

Aldis hopes to roll out the beauty mezzanine, which has been designed to look like a premium beauty offer, if the Leicester trial is successful. He said: “We expect the beauty floor will pull in younger customers and if it keeps growing the way it is at the moment, there could be scope for a standalone Dr Organics store in the right location.”

Aldis said the group is trading positive like-for-likes but “the market is tough”.

Holland & Barrett also opened a new-model store for its sports nutrition chain GNC in Manchester earlier this year. It offers new categories such as sports accessories including clothing and gloves, as well as its range of sports drinks. It also has a smoothie station.

The Holland & Barrett loyalty programme has been piloted for six weeks and Aldis said 60,000 customers have signed up so far. It will launch nationwide in August.

“We will build up the rewards as we go nationwide and we’re very pleased with the initial launch,” he said.