Following its buyout of the organic and natural food chain As Nature Intended (ANI) in March 2020, Planet Organic has announced the closure of two out of the seven ANI London-based stores.
The Dulwich shop, which opened in September 2019, will shut down in late August, while the Stratford branch – the chain’s first ‘optimum wellbeing’ concept store – will close in September.
“When Planet Organic acquired the seven As Nature Intended stores in March it was possible some would close,” Planet Organic CEO Peter Marsh (pictured) told NPN. “We have a clear sense of what the model Planet Organic store looks like and of the experience we want to offer our customers and both Dulwich and Stratford are too small to fit that model. Staff and suppliers have been aware of the closures for some time.”
Marsh stresses that the decision wasn’t a reaction to trading conditions caused by COVID-19: “The As Nature Intended stores have performed well through lockdown as customers have returned to more local shopping habits. The closures are simply part of As Nature Intended’s integration into Planet Organic.”
He added that the company’s city centre stores have been negatively impacted during the crisis whereas neighbourhood stores have been positively impacted, as has online business.
The As Nature Intended stores have performed well through lockdown as customers have returned to more local shopping habits. The closures are simply part of As Nature Intended’s integration into Planet Organic
“In terms of integrating As Nature Intended, the pandemic has delayed us taking the steps planned because we have had to focus on creating a safe experience in all stores for both staff and customers, and we have also gone through the steps to achieve COVID Secure certification,” explains Marsh. “That work now being in place, we are getting back on track merging the two businesses.”
He adds that the move doesn’t affect Planet Organic’s ambitious expansion plans. “Allowing for these two closures, our net store rollout now shows growth from eight to 13 in just six months,” he says. “As an overall strategy, we fully intend to add new stores over the coming years.”
Marsh doesn’t envisage closing further stores but says that when individual leases come up for renewal, the company will review performance and decide if it makes sense to continue in those locations.
Main image: As Nature Intended’s Stratford branch, one of two smaller format stores that new owner Planet Organic is closing