Royal Numico said today it has agreed to sell its UK retail business the Health & Diet Group to Holland & Barrett for €15.6 million. The transaction will be effective as of 10 March 2003. Health & Diet Group owns 56 nutritional supplement stores under the GNC brand and a wholesale business that mainly supplies health shops in the UK. Both the production facility and the warehouse in Kearsley are included in the sale. The combined annualised sales in 2002 of the stores and the wholesale business amounted to around €53 million, according to Numico, with a slightly negative contribution to EBITA. Jan Bennink, CEO of Numico, said: "We are pleased to announce the sale of Health & Diet Group as a strategic step forward in the process of divesting the European supplements activities, as announced in November 2002." Holland & Barrett owns around 450 stores across the UK and Ireland. It is owned by Numico's US rival NBTY. Yesterday Numico reported sales for 2002 down by 4.8 per cent to €3.97 billion and operating profit fell by 14 per cent over the year to €561 million. The company, which recently announced the sale of its wholesale business Unicity in the US, is also hoping to divest other non-core activities, including US vitamins unit Rexall Sundown, before the end of June 2003 as part of its new strategy to focus on infant and clinical nutrition.