Holland & Barrett continues aggressive expansion plan

Holland & Barrett (H&B) plans to open at least 60 stores this year, doubling its usual number of openings as well increasing store sizes as part of an aggressive expansion programme.

The sales area of the new stores will be between 1,500sq ft to 2,500sq ft., compared to the current average size of 950sq ft to 1,000sq ft, but specific size will depend upon location.

“The plan is to open at least 60 stores in the UK and Ireland – 45 to 50 of these will be in the UK and around ten to 15 in Ireland. Probably about 15 to 20 of these will be relocations. The split between the High Street and shopping centres will be about 60:40,” explains Gurdial Flora, director of property at Holland & Barrett’s parent company NBTY Europe.

These new stores are the evolution of the concept store formats Holland & Barrett has been rolling out over the last few years, in which new features such as oil & vinegar units, fruit & nut dispensers, sports nutrition stands, consultation areas and an aromatherapy base have all been trialled.

The specific concepts incorporated into each store will be dependent on factors such as location, demographics, and customer base, and only those features that are well received will be taken forward to future stores. “There are other categories that we’re looking at currently in terms of how we can evolve the display units to cater for those too,” says Flora.

“We’re looking at changing the whole look and feel of the stores. The stores were light brown – aisles and aisles of beige aren’t very appealing and don’t make for a very pleasant customer experience. The concept stores evolved from the Canary Wharf store – that’s where we started using the darker wood finishes.”

Flora says that the company has had very positive feedback from customer exit surveys regarding its newest stores and the next projects are a relocation in Eldon Square, which will be merged into the next door store to effectively double its current space – “and that’s going to have all the bells and whistles” – and a new store in the Oracle Centre in Reading.

H&B also recently launched a project – the first in its Healthy Hope initiative – to create four hectares of new woodland in The National Forest. The three-year project is the latest in the retailer’s commitment to the environment, including switching all 700 of its UK stores to renewable energy and banning single-use plastic bags in favour of reusable materials.