What do you think about Mary Portas’s view of health stores?

The retail expert and former government adviser on the future of the high street, Mary Portas, was the headline speaker at last week’s Natural & Organic Products Expo show in London, where she gave a wide ranging interview with natural beauty champion and broadcaster, Janey Lee Grace. 

She was specicially asked for her opinion on health food stores, and how indie health stores can increase their appeal to shoppers (research from Viridian show that currently just 5% of Britons are regular health food store shopper). 

The article below, originally published at Natural Newsdesk, records her answer to the question. At Health Stores UK, we’d be interested to hear Members’ reaction on Mary’s views. Are they fair comment? How practical or relevant do you think her advice is, and what are your own thoughts on how we can get that 5% penetration up to 10, 15 or 20% ? Please leave your thoughts and comments in the ‘leave a comment’ box below.

Mary Portas on health stores: ‘I love what you’re doing, but try to be more inclusive and joyous’

Mary Portas has a message for health food store owners: “I love what you are doing, because at the heart of it it’s about ‘good for you and good for the world’, but I think you should try to be more inclusive and bring some more joy into your stores”. 

Portas, the UK’s most high profile retail expert and a former government adviser on the future of the high street, was speaking yesterday at Natural & Organic Products Expo

Asked by Natural Newsdesk about how health retailers can attract more customers (currently, just 5% of Britons are regular health store shoppers), she said: “I love what you are doing. Because at the the heart of it it’s about ‘good for you, good for the world’. And to me, it doesn’t matter whether I’m buying fashion, or supplements – I want to buy both of them for the right reasons.

“I think we need to look at health in a much more inclusive way. When I look at, say, Holland and Barrett – and I admire what they’re doing in many ways, and in business terms they’re probably nailing it – I think they still feel like a health food store. You know, it’s not as joyous as I would want. I really do think they could do something more upbeat.

“But actually, the first thing I would do if I was opening health food store is that I wouldn’t call it a health food store. I’d call it something else.”

Portas advised business owners to “think laterally and not fall into the trap of doing things the way they’ve always been done”. She added: “That game is over. Innovation, innovation and collaboration are the way forward. Coming together, creating new ideas and approaches together – moving away from siloed thinking. That’s what I would be saying to retailers in this sector.

“It’s really important to think about the physicality of your store, how you show up, how you connect with people. Sometimes health stores can still be a bit knitted muesli and a bit dry. So, I’d be looking at shaking it up and creating something that is modern and inclusive. Think tangentially about how you get people and families into your stores. And try and find some joy and it, because what you are about is the future. 

“Try and come up with ways creatively that show you are accessible to families on a low budget. Tell people on your social media that you are a business, and a person, that really cares.

Reprinted from Natural Newsdesk

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