The MD of the UK’s oldest health foods buying group The Health Store (THS) has pledged his support for a buyout offer from the Health Made Easy Group (HMEG), owner of rival  Tree of Life.
Formed in 1932 as a cooperative, THS demutualized in 2015 creating some 400 shareholders, and this week the HMEG’s board approached those shareholders with details of its offer. The acquisition would see the purchase of existing shares.
The bid is being supported by Tim Ryan, managing director, THS. Should the HMEG’s bid be successful, THS intends to ‘enhance service levels and provide more choice’ for customers, giving them access to additional product lines, further cementing itself as one of the leading suppliers in natural and organic products.
“Our business has been at the forefront of sourcing natural and organic products for independent retailers for more than 80 years,” says Ryan.
“While the business model we used when we were established had its benefits in our early years, since we demutualized we have been able to drive our business forward and be much more focused on planning for the years ahead.”
Ryan continues: “We’re now really excited about the prospect of joining a larger family with some of the best players in their fields. The opportunity will not only allow us to share capabilities and experience, but also enable better buying power for our customers in the independent channel.
“Health and wellness products represent some of the fastest growing product categories in Britain, and the proposed deal will allow Health Made Easy to work with its businesses to support product innovation and premium service delivery.”
Mike Cole, chairman of HMEG, adds that he hopes the offer shows ‘long-term commitment to the industry’.
Speaking to Natural Products Global, Richard Austin of Rainbow Wholefoods comments: “I’m not sure how the proposed takeover … will affect things. As a member of The Heath Store, I have always valued their contribution to our trade, particularly with respect to training. I understand that the model that they worked with for many years was a little awkward in some ways but there were sound values at the heart of the project which may or may not survive the change. Our working relationship with Tree of Life has always been very good and we have found them to be thorough and friendly, so there are many reasons to be optimistic.”
Under the terms of the proposed acquisition, the businesses would continue operating autonomously from their separate sites. THS shareholders have been given until 2 August 2018 to formally decide whether to accept the offer HMEG’s offer.