Russian billionaire Mikhail Fridman’s investment vehicle has agreed to buy Holland & Barrett for about ￡1.8 billion (US$2.3 billion), gaining one of Europe’s largest health-food retail chains in its first retailing acquisition.
Fridman’s L1 Retail is to acquire the business from private equity owner Carlyle Group LP, according to a statement yesterday.
For Carlyle, the sale marks a partial exit from Holland & Barrett owner Nature’s Bounty Co, which it acquired in 2010 for US$3.8 billion including debt.
The deal demonstrates a continued appetite for retailing assets, particularly those serving the growing number of consumers using natural foods and products. Natura Cosmeticos SA this month started exclusive talks to acquire British cosmetics seller Body Shop from L’Oreal SA for 1 billion euros (US$1.1 billion).
The Holland & Barrett takeover “is an indication of its view of the strength in the health retail sector, despite it being perceived to be an industry struggling to remain afloat,” Cavendish Corporate Finance partner and head of retail Jonathan Buxton said by e-mail.
Based in the UK and founded in 1870, Holland & Barrett sells more than 9,000 products targeted at the growing number of consumers seeking a healthier lifestyle. Shoppers can buy anything from nuts and seeds to a tub of tablets that are said to boost the skin’s tanning properties.
The retailer, which has more than 1,150 stores in 16 nations, has posted 32 consecutive quarters of like-for-like growth.
L1 Retail was set up last year by X5 Retail Group NV owner Fridman to invest US$3 billion in retail businesses in Europe and North America.
Its bid values Holland & Barrett at 2.9 times revenue, above the median of 0.75 times for retail acquisitions made during the past 12 months, according to Bloomberg data.
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