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An industry devastated by the collapse of ToL and THS

As 143 staff at Tree of Life and The Health Store lost their jobs following the collapse of both wholesalers, the natural products industry vowed to bounce back after yet another hit to its renowned resilience.

Both wholesalers, owned by the Health Made Easy Group and operating from large warehouses in central England, announced on August 22 that they were in administration and a buyer sought for the ailing businesses.

The National Association of Health Stores (NAHS) said this was “an extremely sad development which will be felt right across our entire industry,” not least as THS was a Patron and the company was set up via the NAHS in 1932 to serve the newly evolving health food trade.

“Our thoughts are with all of the staff who have lost their jobs and we are currently working with our members to help them overcome this heavy blow to their supply chain,” said a spokesperson.

Graham Keen, Executive Director of the Health Food Manufacturers’ Association (HFMA), said: “It is always very sad to hear news like this, and in this case particularly so given these companies’ long history and association with the health food trade.

“This will have a far-reaching impact, but our industry has always shown resilience in bouncing back – never more so than with the events of the last couple of years or so - and I expect this will be another example of that.”

The £100m group employed 206 employees across the two sites in Newcastle-under-Lyme and Nottingham.

Independent retailers and suppliers reacted with sadness and a determination to pull together.

Angela Stephenson, manager of The Natural Food Store in Norwich, said on the Natural Product Suppliers Facebook page: “So utterly, incredibly heart-breaking for everyone who has worked tirelessly, often for years and years.

“Our industry is built on small suppliers with a great idea/product. Retailers need each and every little company to ensure we have an edge over the multiples, that we stay unique and keep our customers returning.

“Hopefully, we’re small and agile enough to adjust how we work far easier than huge chains and should be able to keep smaller suppliers on our shelves if we can.

“I love our trade – it’s one of the friendliest, most supportive areas in retail. Let’s make sure we are all working together to keep that backbone of the health food industry!”

Mark McCarty, joint MD at World Foods Brand Management, said: “We are all devastated by the news from both ToL and THS as we’ve worked with them for almost 35 years.

“We will be sending out an email shortly to ensure stores are aware of where they can obtain all our products either from alternative wholesalers or directly from ourselves.”

Pravera announced it will supply its Lavera, Ben & Anna and Sodasan products direct.

There was a note of sadness from Linda Tippey of Village Herbarium Health Store on The Wirral: “ToL are my only supplier. Just made up my mind to sell sooner. Getting too stressed.”

A short statement on both websites confirmed that Chris Pole and Ryan Grant of Interpath Advisory had been appointed joint administrators on 22 August 2022.

The THS Open Day at its Nottingham HQ on September 4 has been cancelled.

We will bring more news and reaction as we receive it.

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