Holland & Barrett parent company NYBT Europe is being forced to defend its purchase of high street health chain competitor Julian Graves against potential anti-competitive claims.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has referred the acquisition to the Competition Commission for further investigation into whether the single ownership of the two chains, which total 850 UK stores, would create an unfair advantage in the sector.
Julian Graves is a large independent specialist natural food and ingredients retailer, with over 350 stores in the UK, while Holland & Barrett is the UK’s leading health food products retailer with over 500 stores across the country.
The OFT has pointed out that both retail brands co-exist in about 200 locations across the country, and that the pair are close competitors, in particularly for the supply of nuts, seeds and dried fruit.
Holland & Barrett appointed WCRS as its first retained advertising agency last May. The retailer had previously used Gorilla Communications to manage its product-led tactical advertising.