Holland & Barrett 'determined to eliminate' late payment issues after 'embarrassing' accusation

By Nikki Cutler contact

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images | Roger Utting Photography
Getty Images | Roger Utting Photography
Holland & Barrett says it is making substantial investments to be a 'better fit for the future' after being publicly criticised by the small business commissioner for late payments to suppliers.

The global health food chain was accused earlier this month of having “a purposeful culture of poor payment practices”, by the small business commissioner, Paul Uppal.

He sited data showing that Holland & Barrett took an average of 68 days to pay its invoices and 60% of invoices were not paid within agreed terms.

Responding to the accusation, the firm has said it is determined to eliminate late supplier payments, adding that it is investing in new technology to substantially improve payment performance

A spokesperson for the company said: "Holland & Barrett shares the view that the prompt and reliable payment of suppliers, particularly small suppliers, is both critical to Britain’s economy and the morally right way to do business. 

“Although embarrassing for H&B, we appreciate the small business commissioner and parliamentary committee bringing attention to this important issue.

“The Guardian article on this issue mentioned a single supplier complaint from 2018, but as well a period from October 2017 to March 2018 during which H&B’s on-time payment practices were particularly poor. Holland & Barrett believes that this result was not satisfactory and has taken very seriously the challenge of addressing it."

The spokesperson for the 1,100 store chain adds that in September 2017, ​H&B was acquired by L1 Retail, a unit of LetterOne, and since that time it has been building a new executive leadership team and 'changing the culture of the company to be better fit for the future'. 

"In that future, Holland & Barrett aspires to be a partner of choice for suppliers, and thus its payment practices must be improved."​ 

The firm says it has taken a number of steps to improvement including reviewing and updating its existing supplier contracts, and actively reaching out to all partners to discuss how to better meet mutual commitments and 'build a sustainable platform for success'. 

 "We have also invested substantially in digitalising the business through new technology, including the imminent roll-out of a new electronic payment system, which should improve current payment performance substantially and help ensure this type of issue will not occur again," ​the statement continues. 

"Holland & Barrett is determined to eliminate late supplier payments – for the economy, for small suppliers and for our own future success.  We appreciate the work of the small business commission, and look forward to working more closely with the commissioner and others in government to ensure Holland & Barrett become a model of good practice."  

Management shake-up

The firm recently revealed it was undertaking a 'management shake-up' ​ ​to compliment its new strategy to meet expanding customer needs in a digitally dominated future.

The shake-up included former CEO Peter Aldis stepping down after 10 years in his role with Steve Carson, former managing director for UK and Ireland, promoted to group MD.

Related topics: Suppliers

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