Holland & Barrett merger cleared

Holland and Barrett’s acquisition of rival chain Julian Graves has been cleared by the Competition Commission.

Holland and Barrett

The health products retailer’s purchase of over 350 Julian Graves stores does not create unfair competition in the specific retail of nuts, seeds and dried fruit ranges, the CC ruled today (July 22).

The merger was referred by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) in March after concerns were raised that the creation of a single chain with over 850 shops nationwide would hand H&B an unfair advantage.

The OFT had 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.

However, the CC Inquiry group concluded that competition from other retailers, in particular the supermarkets, would be “sufficient” to balance out the market.

Julian Graves was 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 CC will consult on this provisional decision until August 12, after which a final ruling will be made.

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