Source: Holland & Barrett

Holland & Barrett has trained 4,000 store staff to act as “gut health” advisors.

Staff in all Holland & Barrett stores will be able to give customers personalised advice about the triggers, causes and solutions to common issues around gut health.

The health and wellness retailer will also offer customers free one-to-one consultations through a newly created online hub, under a partnership with the charity IBS Network, which is providing guidance on the training. The retailer has also worked with comedian Jessica Fostekew to create an online show talking about the issues.

Alex Glover, senior nutritionist at Holland & Barrett, said the campaign was part of a wider mission to break what the retailer calls “the great British poo taboo”.

A poll of 1,000 Holland & Barrett customers showed despite 58% of people saying they experience gut health problems, the same percentage remain too embarrassed to talk about it.

It means many often juts put up with symptoms of poor gut health such as diarrhoea and bloating, the retailer said, highlighting 41% of respondents said they found it difficult to break the cycle of bad gut health habits, while 32% said they didn’t know the cause.

The cost of living crisis exacerbated the problem, making it harder for people to access healthy food or causing sleep troubles, another common cause of bad gut health, Holland & Barrett said.

“As well as our expert guidance, we’re so confident in our products we’re offering our customers a 90-day gut health challenge, so they can try one of our recommended products and if they don’t feel the difference after 90 days, they receive their money back,” Glover said.

It’s not the first time Holland & Barrett has trained staff to help with common health issues. In October, 4,000 staff were given training to help them better spot and advise on common symptoms of the menopause. The retailer also established dedicated consulting spaces in 18 stores.

The move comes amid a wider change to the health specialist’s food strategy, under new group growth and food director Lisa Tookey, who took over in March 2022.