Holland & Barrett
The Holland and Barrett (H&B) Group is the UK’s leading manufacturer and retailer of vitamins, minerals and herbal supplements. Holland & Barrett also owns health stores in the Republic of Ireland, and has expanded into Europe in 2003 with the acquisition of a health and beauty chain of stores in the Netherlands – a total of more than 600 retail outlets operating in three countries.
H&B’s commercial interests, and those of the whole specialist natural health products sector, have been threatened by a whole series of European directives and regulations that have greatly increased regulatory burdens, threatening the continued availability of many of the specialist products that are core to the H&B offer.
H&B has been positioned as the most active champion of consumer rights in the UK and as a defender of the interests of the whole industry, including the independent retailers who are H&B’s competitors. With a store in most Parliamentary constituencies in the United Kingdom, H&B branches have been used as lobbying hubs, briefing MPs, issuing leaflets to mobilise consumers, and displaying campaign posters when necessary.
Direct communication with MPs, Peers, 10 Downing Street, the Cabinet Office and key officials of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the Food Standards Agency (FSA) have been carefully managed to ensure that H&B’s concerns are noted at the highest possible level and that the company’s managing director has been personally involved, at the behest of government ministers, in finding practical solutions to the problems of over-burdensome regulations such as the Food Supplements Directive and the Traditional Herbal Medicinal Products Directive.
We also worked with H&B’s Managing Director to enhance the company’s influence within trade associations both within the UK and Europe; and secured a series of personal meetings with the most senior officials of the European Commission and build relationships with MEPs.
H&B gained regular access to 10 Downing Street and government ministers, hundreds of products that would have been lost to the natural health sector have been saved, and government agencies have now been specifically charged by ministers with the task of working in Europe to find real solutions to continuing regulatory problems. Consumer choice has been protected, the specialist products upon which an entire retail sector relies have been retained, and many specialist niche manufacturers have remained in the market as a direct result of the H&B lobbying efforts.
“We have benefited greatly from the strategic and tactical guidance of the Whitehouse Consultancy in achieving an acceptable regulatory regime for natural health products. Whitehouse helped demystify the political process and made sure we punched above our weight in the corridors of power in Westminster, Whitehall and Brussels.”
Peter Aldis, Managing Director, Holland and Barrett Group
Chair, Health Food Manufacturers Association