Edinburgh’s Inverleith swallows organic food business

The business was founded in 1991 and now has several sites. Picture: Contributed
The business was founded in 1991 and now has several sites. Picture: Contributed
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Planet Organic, the London-based health food chain, has been swallowed by Inverleith LLP, the Edinburgh-based private equity house, in a deal thought to be worth some £15 million.

Inverleith said that it will now look to double Planet Organic’s existing seven-store London footprint over the next five years, having acquired a majority stake in the business.

It marks the latest deal in the sector, following the £1.7 billion sale of Holland & Barrett to Nature’s Bounty and Amazon’s £10.7bn acquisition of Whole Foods, both last year.

Inverleith chairman Ben Thomson said: “This is an interesting time of change for the high street with shoppers wanting more community-based shopping.

“Consumers are looking for an experience when they shop and for real knowledge about the products offered. They care deeply about the quality and provenance of products they buy and increasingly search for items which help them lead a holistic healthy lifestyle.

“Planet Organic is the original, oldest and best organic supermarket chain in the UK. It has a fantastic depth of knowledge and heritage in food, beauty and health.

“Shoppers can sit in, enjoying healthy smoothies, juices and have a bite to eat, they can take food away or they can shop for food, health and beauty products.

“This is the sort of shopping that is the future of the high street and we are pleased to be helping Planet Organic to open in other locations around London.”

The deal will result in a pay day for the chain’s founder, Renee Elliott, who is reducing her holding in the business she founded in 1991.

The retailer raked in £30.6m in sales last year generating an operating profit of £590,000. This year the firm is on track to book revenues of about £36m.

Planet Organic chief executive Peter Marsh said: “The last store we opened was on Tottenham Court Road in 2015, and the ability to now look at opening three or four new sites a year is really exciting.”

In August, Inverleith added to its burgeoning consumer goods portfolio by taking a majority stake in a food and drink brand that makes products from hemp seed.

Through its combined fund and investor club stake, Inverleith gained majority ownership of Braham and Murray Good Hemp, which was founded by Henry Braham and Glynis Murray at their Devon farm. The “significant” seven-figure investment will allow the company to expand distribution and widen its product portfolio.