Holland & Barrett Accelerates Wellness-Destination Strategy

Holland & Barrett

Global retailers are redesigning stores around wellness.

The latest: UK-based health food and supplements retailer Holland & Barrett (H&B) acquired Avie, a London-based behavioural change platform.

Avie’s app aggregates personalised health and fitness data from wearables and other sources, then rewards users for taking the steps to improve their physical health.

Beyond retail. The Avie acquisition is an inflection point for H&B’s top-to-bottom transformation strategy to become an integrated health partner to 100M customers. According to chief business and science officer (and leader of M&A) Tamara Rajah, that involves bulking up its ecosystem:

“This vision sees H&B moving beyond offering wellness products and advice, and expanding our reach to offer personalised services, diagnostics and wellness solutions across our digital and retail channels.”

And as the lines continue to blur between healthcare and wellness, H&B has been moving forward on all fronts.

  • 2020: Launched a concept store in Essex offering in-person or telehealth appointments with nutritionists and fitness experts, as well as on-site diagnostics for gut and hormone levels.
  • 2021: Acquired Blow, an at-home beauty and salon services provider.
  • 2022: Acquired women’s health startup Parla and added menopause support to its in-store and digital care platform.
  • 2023: Launched a DTC diagnostics service and partnered with DnaNudge to pilot in-store genetic testing for personalised nutrition and skincare recommendations.

Of note, H&B was hit hard by the pandemic, closing 24 stores, and last year, FT revealed the company’s cash flow troubles. But H&B insists recent balance sheet moves leave it debt-free and capitalised to reshape its 1.6K stores in 18 countries.

Retail x Wellness

While the global wellness market sits at $4T+, the worldwide healthcare market is more than double that. And as consumers increasingly take health into their own hands, their neighbourhood shops see the opportunity to do more.

With record-long waiting lists for UK clinicians, Tesco is entering the at-home diagnostics scene, while ASDA partnered with InHealth to open NHS satellite sites for diabetic testing.

Abroad, from food as medicine to bespoke telehealth, retail giants like Australia’s Woolworths and the US’s Albertsons are keeping everything in-house.

Punchline: Grocers, department stores, and specialty shops like H&B see a future in wellness, stocking holistic goods and services that intersect with health-minded consumers in their everyday lives.

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