News for Retailers

Irish retailers win a reprieve on VAT plan

Irish retailers have breathed a sigh of relief that plans to slap VAT on supplements have been shelved, but they have been warned that the idea is not dead.

Health Stores Ireland administrator Alan McGrath believes a rapid intervention by the Irish health food industry prevented the proposal being included in the publication of the finance bill on 18th October.

“There is no doubt that the intervention and political campaigning from those who engaged has effected a possible change in plans at the Department of Finance,” he said.

Doing nothing would open the door to the possibility of 23% VAT on food supplements, he said.

“It should be noted that a change in the VAT policy on food supplements can now be proposed in a separate Bill outside the Finance Bill,” he added. “It’s very much in our interests that this Bill should reflect the needs of the 50% of the population that use food supplements regularly.”

Heath Stores Ireland is proposing a business-based campaign around the lack of clarity and unfairness of the status quo which leaves Irish manufacturers, distributors and retailers at a disadvantage from imports and online sales.

A separate consumer-based campaign is likely, promoting the long-term need of individuals to use food supplements and the benefits this brings to the health care system in line with stated government policy.

Ireland's health stores are 'in great shape'

Winners of the Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine Awards announced

Ireland's independent health food stores are in great shape - that's the conclusion following the first Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine retailer awards presented in five categories during Vitality Expo in Dublin (8-9th September 2018).

The top five health stores were named as The Hopsack, Dublin (Innovation and Business Development); The Natural Health Store, Wexford (Community Engagement); Evergreen, Galway (Training & Education); Organico, Bantry (Environmental Initiatives); and Only Natural, Wexford (Digital Marketing).

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Positive news for independents

Nearly three quarters (72%) of GB consumers want the Government to do more to back the growth of smaller independent retailers.

YouGov research for marketing automation suite Pure360 found that nearly half (42%) would consider shopping with an independent retailer because they prefer to support smaller operations over a larger retailer.

In addition, one in five shoppers said they like to compare price and product offerings between larger retail brands and independents, before going on to make the final purchase from the smaller retailer.

The surge in support for the lesser known retailers is due in part to the customer service they offer, with nearly half (43%) of respondents claiming they would consider shopping with an independent over a larger retailer because they are treated like a valued customer rather than just a number.

In a similar vein, 39% of consumers favour independents because of the personalised experience they receive, while the same proportion of respondents like them because they offer different products to larger retailers.

Almost 40% of respondents had been introduced to these retailers by friends and family, followed by 20% discovering them through social media advertising.

Despite this, just 22% of GB consumers currently opt to go to an independent retailer in the first instance to seek out an item, indicating that there is still work to be done if they are going to win over the high street giants. Meanwhile, 43% prefer retailers who sell both online and offline.

Health stores 'more important than pubs'

The NAHS has petitioned the UK Government to grant independent health stores the same dispensation of £1000 on business rates that is currently awarded to public houses in recognition of their value to local communities.

“We believe that independent health stores are a far more valuable asset to local communities and indeed to the nation as a whole and should also be granted a dispensation,” says the NAHS.

The petition titled 'Grant healthstores a business rates dispensation' can be found at

Julie is a natural

Julie Goodwin’s Natural Health won the Health and Wellbeing Category Award in the Love Hertford Awards with a list of positive comments as long as your arm. “We are absolutely thrilled,” says Julie. “It was 100% voted by our lovely customers.” She is pictured (second from right) with some of her team.

Hat trick for Irish stores

Three Irish health stores have been named in the Top 100 Retail Excellence Awards which promote best practice and encourage high standards in the Irish retail industry. They are Back to Nature, Cavan; Only Natural at Wexford and Here’s Health, Douglas SC, Cork. Thirty stores will be selected to compete for the awards final.

JB&C's beauty from within

London’s natural health pharmacy John Bell & Croyden has opened ‘InResidence Nutrition’ – a comprehensive nutrition clinic offering advice and guidance to achieve beauty from within. The launch follows the success of the store’s acclaimed beauty treatment room, InResidence Beauty, which opened earlier this year to provide a range of bespoke, luxury facials. On hand are nutritionists Eduardo Passeti, specialising in sports nutrition, and Sara Bertoli, specialising in adult and paediatric nutrition and wellbeing.

Virtual Suzan pops up in Kerry

Health store owner Suzan Turan has teamed up with ‘Digital Pop-Ups’ to create a postcard that comes to life on mobile devices using Augmented Reality. Customers pick up a postcard at The Aquarian in Co. Kerry, download the app and play a game in a virtual Cahersiveen where the shop is based. Suzan’s avatar helps them capture lemons and enter a prize draw by leaving their contact mail (GDPR compliant) on the store’s website.

Zeal for vegan health

Gareth and Sarah Zeal have opened a bistro-style vegan café and health food shop with therapy rooms at Little Green, Newcastle. Fifteen new jobs have been created by the start-up, with more to be added as the couple are already seeking an additional chef. Nutritional therapist Gareth will offer consultations while the venue will host live music events, street food nights and guest chefs.

Gareth Zeal is pictured above (left) with lawyer Jabad Jaigirdar

Health food innovation

Meet the innovators shaping the future of food, health and nutrition at Food Matters Live (ExCeL, London, November 20–22) where more than 800 exhibitors are expected.

Business leaders, government ministers, scientists, commentators and experts in health, nutrition and diet will be among 50 influential speakers at the free-to-attend event. In addition, seminars range from retail trends in health and wellbeing to the future of free-from and sustainable food.

Register at

2018 Organic Trade Conference

The Soil Association holds its 2018 Organic Trade Conference on October 17 at Amnesty International UK in London. We hear that it may be fully subscribed but latecomers are welcome to enquire.

This year's event will focus on the strong growth in the organic market and the factors driving this success, while also considering the opportunities arising across the various channels to market - catering, independent retail, multiple retail and export.

Attendees will be able to participate in the main plenary speaker session, featuring a market update from Kantar Worldpanel, as well as presentations from Waitrose and Hodmedod's, and then choose from tailored discussion panels on International Trade and Selling Organic into Foodservice.

As well as experts from The Soil Association, the speakers will include:

  • Elen Ormson - Duchy Brand Manager, Waitrose
  • Nick Saltmarsh - MD and Founder of Hodemedod's
  • Emma Vass - CEO, Wessanen
  • Patrick O Flaherty - MD and Founder of Pip Organic
  • Ian Platt - Head of Purchasing Supply, Baxterstorey

Sponsored by Fyffes and Diversified Communications. Apply here.

It's not too late to get involved in Organic September

Organic September, the month-long celebration of all things organic that helps people to find, try and buy all things organic is once more upon us. According to Soil Association Certification’s trade consultant, Finn Cottle, this annual focus on organic products is a golden opportunity for independent retailers to share in the action and make the most of the growing interest in ethical consumption.

"Organic September is a golden opportunity for independent retailers to take advantage of the growing passion for organic food and tell the stories of the products they sell. Interest in organic peaks in September each year, with many more people actively looking at ways that they can make changes to their shopping and diets to include more organic products.

While the major supermarkets will have discounts and other offers throughout the entire month, for many smaller independent retailers Organic September Saturday, this year on 15th September, is the highlight of the calendar. This is the chance for independents to showcase what they have to offer by hosting events and offers in store on the day, concentrating their focus on one great event rather than spreading themselves thinly over the entire month.

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Winners named in Irish retailer awards

The best of independent health store retailing is celebrated in the Health Stores Ireland/Better Retailing Magazine awards ceremony on September 8.

The awards will be presented following the first day of Vitality Expo with a ceremony at Paddy Cullen’s, adjacent to the RDS Dublin, at the close of the opening day.

There are 21 awards including the five category winners, shortlisted retailers, special environmental recognitions plus categorised product awards.

Read the full story here...

Read more news in the latest issue of Better Retailing

Read news stories from previous issues of Better Retailing here