News for Retailers

NAHS responds to BBC reporting on Holland & Barrett petition

Recently the BBC reported on a petition created by Holland & Barrett (H&B) employees who claim that the health food store chain is neither 'essential' nor protecting them sufficiently during the coronavirus crisis. The petition is calling for H&B to close all their stores.

NAHS responded to the BBC as follows:

”Categorised by the Government as an essential food service, independent health food stores are proud to be on the frontline in this crisis, helping their communities get through this challenging time by ensuring they have access to the specialist dietary foods, food supplements and advice they rely on to help manage their health. This specialist advice and product range are not available from supermarkets, pharmacies or online," says NAHS Chair, Gary Trickett.

While H&B are not members of the NAHS, the association represents many of the 850+ independently-owned health food stores across the UK.

Trickett continues: "The NAHS can assure you that independent health food stores are committed to ensuring that both customers and staff are protected in line with strict Government guidelines and that they take their responsibilities regarding hygiene and duty of care very seriously. Independent health food stores across the country remain open and many are providing additional community support services including local home deliveries and Call & Collect. The public can be reassured that independent health food stores are proactively supporting their physical and mental wellbeing at this time.”

NAHS free membership offer

The National Association of Health Stores are offering a free membership deal to help independent health stores through the COVID-19 crisis.

NAHS are offering all independent health stores complimentary access to all benefits until 30 June 2020:

  • Unlimited legal advice on employment law, HR and Health & Safety
  • 3 month free e-commerce facility to sell online
  • Access to exclusive NAHS Facebook page for frequent updates on legislation and advice
  • Access to employment resources via online portal
  • Inclusion on NAHS findmyhealthstore app
  • Access to NAHS promotional videos for use on social media platforms

To take advantage of this special offer, email nahsoffice@gmail.com quoting 'COVID-19 MEMBERSHIP’

Why health food stores can remain open during this crisis

When Boris Johnson ordered shops, pubs and restaurants to close on March 23, the UK’s natural health industry Associations had already been on the case for several days.

The National Association of Health Stores had mobilised members and non-members alike to lobby their MPs and Graham Keen, Executive Director of the Health Food Manufacturers Association, had engaged in fruitful discussions with the PM’s Business Advisor three days earlier.

So within hours the NAHS was able to make this statement: “Following the Prime Minister’s address to the nation closing all non-essential shops in an effort to combat coronavirus, the Government has now confirmed that health food stores are included as ‘essential services’ and should remain open during the three-week lockdown to support your customers dietary and health food needs.

“We would like to thank all retailers who took the time to lobby their MPs to define health food stores as ‘an essential service’ and we must grab this opportunity with both hands to show that health food stores are a vital part of local communities and will pull out all the stops to assist their customers during an emergency.”

HFMA has also been lobbying to make sure the sector’s employees are considered to be ‘Key Workers’.

For the record, official Gov.uk guidance says restaurants and cafés must close but food delivery and takeaway can remain operational. All retail must close apart from ‘supermarkets and other food shops, health shops, pharmacies including non-dispensing pharmacies, petrol stations, bicycle shops, home and hardware shops, laundrettes and dry cleaners, bicycle shops, garages, car rentals, pet shops, corner shops, newsagents, post offices, and banks’.

If your store is not a Member of the NAHS, join now by contacting Avril McCracken (email: nahsoffice@gmail.com) or access the NAHS membership application at www.nahs.co.uk

A bigger Planet

Planet Organic swooped to buy As Nature Intended, the chain that was started by the founder of supermarkets firm Iceland, Sir Malcolm Walker. The move has almost doubled the size of Planet at a stroke, from eight stores to 15 in London.

ANI notched up sales of around £11m last year in organic food and health and beauty products, headed by Walker’s daughter Caroline Gooding. The seven stores will be rebranded as Planet Organic, and join the new owner’s eight existing sites.

Natural & Organic Products Europe will return to ExCel London in April 2021

Natural & Organic Products Europe 2020 has been cancelled following an announcement that the exhibition venue, ExCel London, is to be converted into a temporary NHS-operated hospital, known as NHS Nightingale.

Natural & Organic Products Europe will return next year on Sunday 18th and Monday 19th April 2021.

Keeping up with demand

Wholesalers have been doing their best to keep up with demand and throughout March were reporting that many manufacturers were struggling to supply sufficient quantity of key products.

Retailers, too, have been forced to make adjustments not just by selling online but by taking phone and email orders for home delivery or ‘drive-by’ collection.

Paul Rideout, Sales & Marketing Director at The Health Store, told BRM in mid-March: “We have a range of over 12,000 products and anything that’s associated with immune defence and all hand sanitiser brands are experiencing much larger than normal increase in demand, in some cases as much as 3,000%.

“However it’s difficult to quantify actual increase in volume because on a lot of products we just cannot keep up with the demand and manufacturers can’t supply enough to satisfy it!

“It’s not just immune defence and hygiene products either. Stockpiling is driving sales increases across products like nappies, baby food and general food essentials. The inventory of associated products increases as the consumers’ perception of their wants and needs expand.”

Lucy Redfern, Managing Director at Wholesale Health, commented on demand for immune defence products: “In our 20 years of trading we’ve never seen anything like it.

“In particular, Vitamin C is the most requested with liposomal Vitamin C being the most popular. We are having to limit orders of Good Health Naturally’s ‘Cure C + Quercetin’ to ensure every shop has some stock.

“The other product on almost every single order is Good Health Naturally ‘Hydrosol Silver Spray’ and ‘Gel’ [anti-septic and anti-microbial properties]. This saw an increase of over 350% in the first two weeks of March. Alongside these we have about 10 other immune support products that are also experiencing extremely high demand.

“The pressure is definitely on the manufactures, logistics and us to keep the shelves stocked for the foreseeable future.”

Home and Away Task Force nips over to Ireland

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) recently joined forces with its Irish counterpart IAHS for the very first NAHS Roadshow sponsored by Patron Viridian Nutrition. A return visit by Irish stores is planned post COVID-19.

UK retailers Best Health Food Store based in Kent and Sussex, Noah’s Health Store (Wallington), Abaca Health Store (Liverpool), Sheaf Street Health Store and The Healthy Life Company (both Daventry) all enjoyed the overwhelming Irish hospitality of health stores in the Cork area and the chance to view different successful trading practices.

First up was Organico, a health store, bakery, café and gallery in the picturesque West Cork town of Bantry – and featured in our Winter issue. Run by the Dare sisters Hannah and Rachel, it is one of the best known shops in the country. The sisters have recently refurbished and added an extensive bulk filling station element.

Then on to Olive Branch Health Store and Twig Zero Waste Shop in Clonakilty, run by Olive Finn and her family for more than 12 years. Last year Olive took a giant leap forward by acquiring nearby premises and opening a dedicated zero waste and bulk refill shop. This has been a resounding success and has been a destination for many people both within the trade and consumers to see how the concept performs. Ireland’s national TV station, RTE, recently featured Twig in a primetime TV series.

An Tobairin, Bandon, is run by Mary Wedel and is one of the longest established stores in West Cork. Mary has moved her shop on a couple of occasions and recently she took the brave step of taking her store from the high street to more fitting and unique premises on a side street. This has allowed Mary to expand into other areas and to date these all revolve around adding educational events for the community of loyal shoppers that have stuck with An Tobairin from the beginning. Mary puts a big focus on arranging classes, workshops and after hours events alongside a well-stocked food-focused shop.

NAHS Chairman Gary Trickett said: “We are highly delighted that this first road show was such an outstanding success. The stores that attended reported that they have taken many ideas back to their own stores to implement and benefitted from networking both with the Irish stores and with the other UK participants.

“We would like to thank Alan McGrath and the committee of the IAHS and the Irish stores involved for helping make this event so successful and we look forward to their reciprocal visit later in the year.”

Barclaycard to enable UK retailers to accept new £45 Contactless Limit

Barclaycard, which sees nearly half of the nation's credit and debit card transactions, will be rolling out the deployment of the new £45 contactless limit across UK retailers from 1 April 2020.

The payments provider is supporting the increased threshold to help prevent the spread of Coronavirus. Adjusting the contactless limit from £30 to £45 will allow more customers to make payments without touching card terminals or handling cash.

Deployment will be prioritised for retailers in key sectors, including grocery & supermarket stores, bakeries, pharmacies and petrol service stations. Barclaycard will be supporting the deployment of the higher contactless limit to other merchants in due course.

Rob Cameron, CEO of Barclaycard Payments said: "It's more important than ever for merchants and their customers to be mindful of their collective health and safety. We are proud to be taking a leadership position in the UK by commencing the deployment of a higher contactless threshold. By supporting the ability of customers to spend up to £45 via contactless, we are playing a part in helping UK consumers to pay safely and securely in these challenging times".

Update from NAHS - healthfood stores included as 'essential services'

The NAHS has issued the following statement:

"Following the Prime Ministers address to the nation closing all non-essential shops in an effort to combat coronavirus, the Govt has now confirmed that healthfood stores are included as 'essential services' and should remain open during the 3-week lockdown to support your customers dietary and healthfood needs.

"We would like to thank all retailers who took the time to lobby their MPs to define healthfood stores as 'an essential service' and we must grab this opportunity with both hands to show that healthfood stores are a vital part of local communities and will pull out all the stops to assist their customers during an emergency.

"NAHS will continue to advise members with up to date coronavirus information going forward.

"To become a member contact nahsoffice@gmail.com

Read more news in the latest issue of Better Retailing Magazine

Read news stories from previous issues of Better Retailing Magazine here