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Holland & Barrett shrugged off the misery hitting the high street to post its ninth consecutive year of like-for-like sales growth as customers continued to opt for healthier products.

Holland & Barrett, which is the largest health food chain in Europe, posted revenue growth of 7.1pc in the year to September 30 to £656m, with like-for-like sales up 4.5pc and online sales rising 23.6pc.

Unlike rival retailers, which have been struggling with lower footfall, causing a wave of big names to shutter stores and slash jobs, Holland & Barrett said activity in the year remained “satisfactory” and that it was continuing to expand its portfolio “where strategically appropriate”.

It comes just weeks after Nielsen said Europeans were increasingly buying more health-focused products, after posting data which showed European consumers spent 4.4pc more on groceries in the final quarter of 2017.

It said products which were focused “on health and wellness through organic and free-from ingredients” were selling particularly well.

Holland & Barrett said it was continuing to invest in both its store estate and online capabilities, to differentiate its business from others in the health food sector.

“The health store market is highly fragmented globally. There are estimated to be more than 1,000 independent health stores operating in the UK alone.

“Furthermore, there is increasing competition from the national supermarket chains and other retailers, such as chemists, drugstores and internet traders.”

Holland & Barrett’s pre-tax profit did, however, slip to £72m from £115m due to exceptional costs relating to a subsidiary and higher finance expenses.

Some of the costs incurred related to its acquisition by L1 Retail last August. Retail investment fund L1 Retail is part of the LetterOne group, controlled by Russian tycoon Michail Fridman.

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