Major William Holland and Alfred Slapps Barrett purchased a grocery store in 1870, and the name came from a combination of their surnames. Over the years, the primary focus of Holland and Barrett has shifted to vitamins, supplements and health food, and they have fought off competition from a number of different independent stores that sell items per scoop or per bowl. By developing their own branded products, they have maintained control of the entire chain of production and distribution to their collection of UK branches.
Consumers with specific dietary requirements are catered for at Holland and Barrett, and some of their most popular lines include products that are free from gluten, dairy or artificial colourings and flavourings. While many similar retailers offer frequent "Buy One Get One Free" promotions, they regularly offer the second item for a penny, and this has allowed them to stand out on the high streets where they operate.