Holland & Barrett, the UK’s biggest health food retailer, is being bought by a Russian billionaire for £1.8bn.L1 Retail, a fund controlled by Mikhail Fridman, is buying the 1,150-store chain from Carlyle, the US private equity firm, the Financial Times reported.Carlyle acquired Holland & Barrett as part of its $3.8bn purchase in 2010 of US firm Nature’s Bounty, now NBTY.The chain has about 600 stores in the UK as well as China, India and the UAE.The retailer, which employs more than 4,000 people, was founded in Bishop’s Stortford, Hertfordshire, in 1870.Holland & Barrett has opened more than 300 stores in the seven years since the private equity takeover, the Financial Times reported.Rush on rosemary sales for exam seasonH&B accused of squeezing suppliersThe purchase is the first by L1 Retail, which was set up in late 2016. It aims to invest $3bn in a small number of retail businesses that it believes can be market leaders by “moving with and leading long-term trends”.
The fund’s advisory board includes John Walden, the former chief executive of Home Retail Group. The company owned Argos and Homebase before selling both chains last year.Other members are Karl-Heinz Holland, who was chief executive of Lidl Group, the German supermarket chain; and Clive Humby, one of the founders of dunnhumby, which came up with the idea for Tesco’s Clubcard.L1 also has funds focused on energy, technology and health.Peter Aldis, Holland & Barrett chief executive, is expected to stay on.Mr Fridman is best known for his role as chief executive of BP’s Russian joint venture TNK between 2003 and 2012, when it was sold to Rosneft for $56bn. Mervyn Davies, the former Standard Chartered chief executive who is now Lord Davies of Abersoch, is chairman of L1 Holdings.