Holland & Barrett sale raises healthy pounds 100m

Holland & Barrett, one of Britain's best-known health food retailers, has been sold to an American group for pounds 100m.

NBTY, formed in the US as Natures Bounty in 1960, has bought the chain from Gehe, the German pharmaceuticals group which acquired it as part of the Lloyds Chemists deal in January. The existing management, led by managing director Barry Vickers will continue to run the company, and NBTY said there would be no redundancies among the 2,250 staff.

The deal means a further invasion of the UK health food market by US groups. General Nutrician Centres is also expanding in the UK, though from a smaller base.

Holland & Barrett has 402 shops and last year achieved profits of pounds 8.2m on sales of pounds 110m. NBTY plans to continue the group's expansion plans.

Barry Vickers, Holland & Barrett's managing director, welcomed the deal, saying it would help fund further expansion and aid investment in better in-store technology and additional advertising and marketing.

The deal will give NBTY combined sales of pounds 260m this year with 500 stores.

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