The new 6,000 square foot (557 sqm) outlet includes protein shake stations, fruit and nut pick n mix, a cereal bar, and an entire floor of sports nutrition products – along with an expanded range of Holland & Barrett’s usual products, and an ethical beauty section.
This is the retailer’s fourth More store, after opening locations in the English cities of Chester, York and Plymouth. According to CEO Peter Aldis, the firm has experimented with the More format since opening the Chester store around a year ago.
“If you look at speciality foods, our free-from foods that we have a very wide range of, or our chilled and frozen foods where we’re looking very much at the rise of veganism, and in sports nutrition and beauty we have bigger ranges again,” said Aldis, adding that free-from and allergy-aware foods were an important focus area.
“Included in that we have many different concepts in the store – some are concepts in terms of other products or ranges we could sell, and others are as simple as cereals to go, making up your own cereal on the move, which is very popular here in Oxford Street,” he added, listing olive bars and oil and vinegar as other More concepts.
“Some of this is very important in ensuring the customer experience is a great one – it just feels like you’re in a bit more of a sexy shop, as opposed to aisles of linear shelves dominated by products,” Aldis said.
He added that the benefit was not from increased sales: “If I were to measure the sales per square foot of the things we’ve added in it wouldn’t necessarily look good – but I think it absolutely adds to the shopping experience.”
One major area of expansion is the natural beauty section, which has the effect of bringing in younger female consumers – who then become the most enthusiastic cross-shoppers for the retailer’s other sections, according to Aldis.
He said while the More stores literally sell more of everything, it’s ranges such as beauty or speciality foods for which Holland & Barrett is less well known which see the biggest benefit. According to Aldis, food especially loses out in smaller shops, due to the space required.
“I always maintain that the brand can be viewed negatively or positively depending on the location of the customer and the size and age of our store,” he said, noting this affects stores in smaller towns in particular.
“Whereas I think when you walk into this store, or any of our conventional but newish stores, you get the sense it’s a brand you want to go and explore and investigate. It’s a bit of an Aladdin’s cave, and especially with food products we’re constantly trying to churn and add new products in that people, especially women, will love,” Aldis added.
‘We we sell products we believe in’
He said Holland & Barrett remained committed to its health and wellbeing focus, noting “we don’t sell snake-oil, we sell products we believe in”.
Aldis was coy on the rumoured €5bn+ sale of the retailer’s parent company NBTY by owner the Carlyle Group.
“From my point of view it’s absolutely business as usual, we have a great business – and I would point to the fact that, we’re very proud of this statistic, we’ve just completed our 31st consecutive quarter of like-for-like growth. And I don’t think there’s any retailer in the UK which can say that.”