Is Holland and Barrett ethical?
Our research highlights several ethical issues with Holland and Barrett and we have awarded them negative marks in a number of categories on our scoring system, including for climate change, environmental reporting, palm oil, supply chain management, animal rights, animal testing, anti-social finance, and political activities.
Below we outline of some of these issues. To see the full detailed stories, and Holland and Barrett's overall ethical rating, please sign in or subscribe.
Worst Ethical Consumer rating for supply chain management
Holland & Barrett score poorly across all Ethical Consumer's ratings including supply chain management, for which they score a worst mark.
When Ethical Consumer searched the company website there was no specific information on a supply chain policy, auditing, stakeholder engagement or difficult issues. A web page stated that the company encouraged all its suppliers to “adopt an ethical policy when sourcing raw materials and in the treatment of their workforce”.
This was said to be supported by a preferred supplier programme, which recognised suppliers that “embraced” the companies views. A dedicated team of auditors was said to regularly monitor suppliers. However none of this was explored further than a cursory sentence.
Worst rating for its environmental and other reporting
Despite their ethical appearance, Holland & Barrett did not appear to have an up to date environmental policy when their website was searched by Ethical Consumer in 2017. The company also appeared not to have a policy to phase our the use of toxic chemicals or a policy on the use of palm oil in its products. The company therefore scored a worst Ethical Consumer rating in all three categories.
However it should be noted that the website of its own brand product, Dr Organic, did contain additional information (but this was not not dated).
This site stated that they "do not use ingredients often criticised for their side effects.We never use parabens, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), perfumes or artificial fragrances." However this only applied to this brand and not to other Holland and Barrett brands or brands that Holland and Barrett sold in their stores.
Worst rating for policy on animal testing
Neither Holland & Barrett nor its parent companies appeared to have animal testing policies when their websites were searched by Ethical Consumer in 2017. The company was also 'not endorsed' by animal rights campaign group NatureWatch over their lack of a fixed cut-off date for the animal testing of products or ingredients.
There was a statement on the website of one of its brands, Dr Organic, that said "Our products are always tested on human volunteers to ensure they are completely safe and effective. No animal tests are ever performed on finished products or raw materials."
However this did not include a fixed cut-off date and it did not apply to the sale of other brands in its stores. Therefore in 2017 the company received a worst Ethical Consumer rating in this category.
LetterOne, the owners of Holland and Barrett, also invested heavily in life sciences noting on their website that the sector provided, "considerable opportunity".
Holland & Barrett owners score a worst rating on likely use of tax avoidance strategies
LetterOne is based in the tax haven of Luxembourg. The company also had two holding companies in this country.
Moreover the company invested $200m in Uber with in 2017. Uber also scores Ethical Consumer's worst rating for likely use of tax haven strategies.