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Gloucestershire Business News

Health shop owner LetterOne, in talks with struggling grocer

Holland & Barrett owner LetterOne, an international healthcare investment firm, is in talks about a last-minute rescue bid for struggling organic supermarket chain, Planet Organic.

Holland & Barrett is a UK leading health and wellbeing retailer with stores in Eastgate Shopping Centre, Gloucester Quays and Cheltenham's Regent Arcade, also Stroud, Tewkesbury and Cirencester.

The investment group is one of several suitors interested in snapping up parts of the grocer, which is on the brink of collapse. City sources said the firm was interested in its target brand and intellectual property rather than its 13-store portfolio, according to Retail Gazette.

The Planet Organic chief executive is said to be focused on keeping the business intact. However, a rescue deal for the supermarket is likely to result in significant job losses among its 360 workforce.

After talks with Waitrose fell through, Planet Organic had sought an extension to a notice of intention to appoint administrators that it filed at the end of March. This move will give the chain until close to the end of the month to secure a last-minute deal.

George Dymond, Planet Organic chief executive said: "While we have taken every possible action to improve our position, including additional investment from our existing shareholders, we have so far been unsuccessful in sufficient funds needed to support the business and the growth plan.

"In the meantime, however, we have had to take legal steps to protect the position of the business to afford us the time to be able to find a solution to the challenging situation we face, including filing at court a notice of intention to appoint administrators which is the first step in a potential administration process."

Other interested rescue parties include Redbus Ventures, an investment firm set up by Lovefilm co-founder Simon Franks.

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