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Holland and Barrett sold in £1.8 billion deal

Health retailer Holland and Barrett has been snapped up by a Russian Billionaire in a £1.8 billion deal.

The chain of health food shops is to be bought by L1 Retail, an investment fund backed by Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman.

Holland and Barrett first started as a market stall in Bishop’s Stortford 145 years ago, but has grown greatly since that time. With more than half of its 1,150 stores located in the UK, the company is the biggest health food retailer in the UK, but also has a strong presence in China, India, the Netherlands and UAE. It employs around 4,000 people, whilst CEO Peter Aldis is expected to stay in his position.

L1 Retail managing partner, Stephan DuCharme, said: “Holland and Barrett is a clear market leader in the UK health and wellness retail market, with attractive growth positions in other European and international markets.”

“We are very much looking forward to working with Peter Aldis and his strong management team. We believe that the company is well positioned to benefit from structural growth in the growing £10 billion health and wellness market and has multiple levers for long term growth and value creation.”

Various other names had been reported to be interested in buying the retailer from US private equity firm Carlyle, including owner of Superdrug AS Watson Group, private equity firm Sycamore Partners and US group KKR. Eventually, though, it was L1 Retail who purchased the company; their first purchase having been set up in late 2016.

Holland and Barrett CEO, Peter Aldis, said: “We are delighted to now be in partnership with the L1 Retail team and its advisory board of internationally-renowned retailers. We have upgraded much of our core store portfolio to concept stores to deliver additional in-store theatre and increased customer engagement.”

Holland and Barrett has been a key player in the growth of the plant-based food market, bringing many of the big vegan products and brands, such as VBites, Tofurky and Violife to the UK High Street.

This is the second huge deal for predominantly plant-based companies in the space of a week, after Amazon last week bought the Whole Foods chain in the US for £13 billion.

The Holland and Barrett deal is due to come to fruition in September.

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