H&B products

Source: Holland & Barrett

More than 500 products have rolled into H&B stores, in what is the first of three waves of new launches over the next

Holland & Barrett has promised improved relationships with its suppliers following what is the biggest overhaul of its food category for a decade.

This week the health and wellness retailer launched 500 new grocery lines into stores, in what is the first, and largest, of three waves of NPD planned over the next year.

The “transformation” includes more than 300 new own-label lines, 200 new branded lines and sees the return of chilled lines, with more than 70 products including plant-based sausages, broths and kombuchas.

The retailer has reviewed its entire grocery category – delisting 800 lines and adding 50 new own-label suppliers – in what is its first significant relaunch following the completion of a £700m debt deal by its owner LetterOne in November 2022.

That deal ended what had been a turbulent period for the specialist retailer, during which sanctions brought against its former Russian shareholders left it unable to pay creditors. The business was also criticised by suppliers over its slow payment practices.


Source: Holland & Barrett

“We’re in a much better place now – and we are very open with suppliers about where we are,” H&B chief commercial officer Alex Dower told The Grocer. 

“It was a reset year for us last year with lots of transformational change and system change. We refinanced the business and that unfortunately did impact some suppliers and we’ve very publicly apologised for that.”

The retailer is currently in the process of onboarding all suppliers to a newly launched supplier portal, which has been introduced to improve transparency and make it easier for suppliers to get insight into H&B’s systems, including stock levels, ordering and payment.

The company has also invested “much more resource” into its supplier relations team, to boost manpower and improve the way they communicate with suppliers, Dower said.

“Our suppliers have a much better window into our business now and are able to see exactly what is coming – that’s helping build our relationship,” he said.

Food category takes H&B back to its roots

Holland & Barrett was founded as a grocer in 1870, however in recent years its lineup has been much more focused on health products, vitamins and speciality products. The food transformation represents two years of work under food director Lisa Tookey, who was recruited in March 2022 from the Jamie Oliver Group, to lead the category overhaul alongside former M&S product development head April Preston

During that time she’s worked to recruit a team of in-house development chefs, while H&B’s own development kitchen is “in development”.

The new own-label products include a new line of vegan alternative cheese, dried Flamingo peas supplied by Hodmedod’s and a condiments range in partnership with Dr Will’s.

Holland and Barrett

Source: Holland & Barrett

It also includes new specialist products targeted at specific wellness needs or dietary requirements, including 10 specific allergies, gut health, women’s health and skin health.

The business has also rationalised and rebranded its lines of fruit and nuts.

“We’re never trying to replace the weekly shop,” Dower said. “What we want to do is complement it with unique, simple, easily understandable food items that support speciality diets and tolerances.

“If you go back 15-20 years, even more recently, there’s still a perception that health food doesn’t taste great. What we wanted to do in hiring a new level of expertise into the business was have no compromise on taste,”