Holland & Barrett aims for 'digital transformation' and international growth with new appointments

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Holland & Barrett aims for 'digital transformation' and international growth with new appointments

Related tags Retailing Holland & barrett

The CEO of Holland & Barrett International says its enrolment of ex-Sainsbury's director Steve Carson as MD and former P&G CMO Roisin Donnelly signals its intent to become one of the world's leading health and wellness brands.

Already a major European health and wellness retailer with a wide range of own-brand supplements, powders, and functional foods, Holland & Barrett International has signalled its intention to grow its brand and retail footprint globally.

The group has reported 35 consecutive quarters of brand like-for-like growth and currently operates more than 1,100 stores across the world, including 788 branches in the UK and Ireland of which 32 are ‘store in store’ concepts with Tesco. It was acquired by Russian-led L1 Retail in September 2017 for around €2 billion​.

Billionaire Russian oligarch Mikhail Fridman, who set up the investment fund in late 2016, aims to invest in retail businesses that it believes can be market leaders. Holland & Barrett is L1 Retail’s first acquisition.

Speaking at the time of the deal L1 Retail managing partner Stephan DuCharme said: “Holland & 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 believe that the company is well positioned to benefit from structural growth in the growing ​€13bn (£10bn) health and wellness market and has multiple levers for long-term growth and value creation,"​ he added.

New appointments: Driving growth

Peter Aldis, Holland & Barrett CEO, said the appointment of both Carson as MD and Donnelly to the Group Board represent important strategic milestones that will help to drive ‘digital transformation’ in all aspects of the business.

“Coming so soon after our acquisition by L1 Retail, it is as clear signal of our intent to become one of the world's leading health and wellness brands,”​ the CEO said.

Formerly director of retail and customer operations at UK retail giant Sainsbury's Argos, Carson was responsible for 840 stores with 30,000 staff and a turnover of £4.5bn. Prior to this he successfully introduced Argos concessions into other Home Retail Group stores and led Argos' successful digital transformation strategy, turning the business into a highly-regarded 'digital first' company prior to its sale to Sainsbury's.

Carson moves into a newly-created MD position at the health & wellness retailer, and reporting directly to CEO Aldis, will oversee the day-to-day running of Holland & Barrett including driving further growth and development.
"Steve brings with him considerable breadth and depth of senior-level experience in driving transformation at Sainsbury's Argos,”​ said Aldis. “He will focus on our digital transformation programme and will help us continue to innovate in stores, e-commerce, logistics and supply chain as well as in customer service and fulfilment, creating the right platform for long-term sustainable digital growth.”

Meanwhile, former P&G CMO Roisin Donnelly has joined the Holland & Barrett Group Board to assist the business in developing their brand aspirations, digital transformation and international growth.

Donnelly is tasked with bringing creativity and oversight to all parts of the business, and will be involved particularly in helping the business accelerate its digital transformation, further develop its brand proposition and assist in further international growth.

“Roisin’s appointment adds further depth and strength to our business as we look to accelerate our plans for structural growth and value creation in what is a growing £10 billion health and wellness market,” ​said the Holland & Barrett CEO.

“Roisin brings tremendous experience gained from over 30 years working in a number of senior positions in Procter & Gamble, both in the UK as well as overseas markets. She has a clear view on future trends in digital and online shopping and her extensive marketing and consumer brand expertise in particular will help us plan ahead with more confidence while making sure we remain relevant to our current and growing customer base.”

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