Leading UK health food retailer Holland & Barrett said this weekend that it was “not affected by any sanctions and does not expect to be” following the imposition of EU sanctions earlier in the week on two Russian billionaire shareholders in H&B’s parent company LetterOne.
Mikhail Fridman and Petr Aven stepped down from the LetterOne board following the imposition of sanctions. LetterOne said their assets in the business had been “effectively frozen”, adding that neither now had rights as shareholders and that if sanctions were lifted the LetterOne board was “under no obligation to return these rights”. Fridman and Aven own less than 50% of LetterOne shares the company said, meaning that they had “no control of the business”.
In statement issued on Sunday Holland & Barrett set out to answer mounting questions from consumers, suppliers and campaigners about its ownership.
In the statement, H&B said: “Mr Fridman has never sat on the Holland & Barrett board and has no influence or involvement in our business. Mr Fridman has never received any dividends from Holland & Barrett and is not entitled to receive any economic benefits from Holland & Barrett.”
The company said no dividends or profits were going to Russia, noting that since the acquisition of Holland & Barrett by LetterOne in 2017, “LetterOne has never benefited from any cash distributions or dividends from Holland & Barrett”.
‘Horrified and upset’
In the statement, Holland & Barrett said that it was “horrified and upset by the war in Ukraine” and stood “firmly with the international community calling for a peaceful resolution to the invasion of Ukraine”.
The statement added: “This is a time of great concern for us all, particularly those with loved ones directly impacted by the invasion of Ukraine. Our thoughts continue to be with them at this dark time.”
Holland & Barrett said it has so far raised over £380,000 of food supplies to the people of Ukraine to support the humanitarian crisis.