Russian oligarch swoops for Holland & Barrett in £1.8bn deal

BY Fraser Tennant

Helping itself to a big slice of the growing £10bn health and wellness market, investment fund L1 Retail has acquired Holland & Barrett from US private equity firm The Carlyle Group for £1.8bn.

Acquired by Carlyle in 2010 as part of its purchase of Nature's Bounty Co. (now NBTY), Holland & Barrett has experienced growth of over 90 percent in the years since Carlyle first invested in the brand. Founded in 1870, Holland & Barrett has stores in more than 1150 locations worldwide, a significant rapidly expanding online ecommerce capability and a global employee base of more than 4200 associates and staff.

"We are delighted to now be in partnership with the L1 Retail team and its advisory board of internationally-renowned retailers,” said Peter Aldis, chief executive of Holland & Barrett. “We have upgraded much of our core store portfolio to concept stores to deliver additional in-store theatre and increased customer engagement. New products launched through our ethical sourcing programme have also been a key growth driver helping to underpin our substantial investment to gain presence across an increasingly global health and wellness market.”

The fund acquiring Holland & Barrett, L1 Retail, is the retail investment arm of the LetterOne Group, an international investment business headquartered in Luxembourg. Controlled by the Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman, the acquisition of Holland & Barrett is the first deal undertaken by his L1 Retail vehicle (further diversification has seen Mr Fridman set up L1 Technology and L1 Health).

"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, and growing online presence, with a leading customer loyalty programme and 10 million active cardholders,” said Stephan DuCharme, managing partner at L1 Retail. “We believe that the company is well positioned to benefit from structural growth in the growing health and wellness market and has multiple levers for long term growth and value creation."

Advising Carlyle during the sale to L1 Retail was Goldman Sachs, Houlihan Lokey, UBS, PwC, Latham Watkins LLP and OC&C. The transaction is expected to close by September 2017 subject to customary regulatory approvals. 

Mr Aldis concluded: “Carlyle has been a great partner for Holland & Barrett over the last few years and we look forward to building on this track record as we enter the next chapter with L1 Retail."

News: Holland & Barrett sold for £1.8bn to Russian billionaire

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