Planet Organic pushes forward with expansion despite challenging high street

Planet Organic has said it plans to double its store numbers over the next four years as it shrugs off the current high street turmoil.

The grocery chain has seen sales surge in recent years as it has been buoyed by rising demand for ethical, sustainable and healthy products.

The retailer said it intends to open at least 10 stores over the next five years, expanding its portfolio to around 18 sites.

“We see a retailer like ourselves being a strong part of the high street offering for many years to come,” said company chairman Ben Thomson.

“We are in talks over four potential locations at the minute. We don’t know if these will all come off, but there is a clear appetite from landlords to bring in our stores.

Planet Organic unpacked food stand
Planet Organic unpacked food stand

“Christmas was good for us and January has started really strong as well, so we have a great platform for 2020.”

Planet Organic kicked off its expansion plan in August last year with the opening of a new site in Queens Park as it continues to focus on family-oriented London locations to deliver success.

Growth plans have been driven by fresh capital after Scotland-based private equity firm Inverleith LLP bought majority ownership of the business in 2018.

The company has since driven funds into its expansion efforts, seeing the company swing to a loss for the year to August 2019, as it continues to target “two openings per year” for the foreseeable future.

Sales at the grocer jumped 8% to £35.1 million for the year despite a retail backdrop blighted by weak consumer confidence.

Mr Thomson said its performance has continued to improve into the current year, hailing its performance over Christmas and January.

He said: “We are odd in retail in that we tend to do very well in January. Veganuary, health kicks, dieting efforts at the start of the year are all things that tie very well to our brand and the products we sell.

Planet Organic chairman Ben Thomson (Planet Organic/PA)
Planet Organic chairman Ben Thomson (Planet Organic/PA)

“We are growing with the trend for healthy, organic, plant-based food.

“We are already where the trend is growing so that puts in a great position growth-wise – everyone knows demand for these products is out there.”

The wider supermarket sector has been under pressure in recent years, with the big four grocers all reporting subdued sales in recent months amid pressure from the German discounters.

Rival grocery chains have looked towards healthier food trends and sustainability initiatives in a bid to improve sales performance.