Holland & Barrett trains 600 women’s health coaches to give in-store support

It used to be known mainly as a destination for dried fruit and vitamin tablets but now women can get advice on period pain, mood swings and sleep while shopping in Holland & Barrett.

The retailer has trained 600 staff to act as women’s health coaches after its research revealed demand for broader support on hormonal and menstrual issues, with menopause the “tip of the iceberg”.

Gynaecological conditions were the number one topic raised by the 100,000 women who responded to a government survey that helped shaped England’s first women’s health strategy in 2022. But 31% of women said they were last equipped with information on their cycle and hormones “when at school, or not at all”, according to YouGov research commissioned by Holland & Barrett (H&B).

“Being on every high street, we are ideally placed to normalise conversations around women’s health for women of all ages, from periods to fertility, endometriosis and more, then to peri menopause and menopause,” said Tamara Rajah, H&B’s chief transformation officer.

The once staid health food chain is attempting to reinvent its more than 700 UK shops as destinations for “accessible wellness solutions that work”, selling products “rooted in science”. The move comes amid an explosion of consumer interest in “wellness” products and services, especially among Gen Z and millennial shoppers.

As part of H&B’s overhaul it is putting £3m into its women’s health offer. This includes the cost of putting 600 staff through a training programme, drawn up by medical professionals, on the menstrual cycle, including common symptoms, nutrition, gut health, sleep and mood. The coaches wear badges with customers able to book sessions face-to-face or online.

A “lot of progress” had been made on some aspects of women’s health, said Lina Chan, H&B’s director of women’s health, referring to the increasingly mainstream discussion of the menopause.

But Chan said its research showed “menopause is the tip of the iceberg and there’s a lot more that needs to be addressed across a woman’s health lifespan”. Women were not getting the support they needed beyond a topic that happened to be the flavour of the month, she said.

Many women grew up feeling periods or fertility struggles were taboo subjects, Chan said. “It’s not something you would come to work and have a conversation about, or at school, talk to a friend about why your tummy is hurting.”

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This gap had not been filled on the high street before, Chan claimed. “The feelings and symptoms and the need has been there, the solution and access to the solution has not, and we are really are stepping into that gap.”

There will also be also access to a free menstrual health video helpline in partnership with the Endometriosis Foundation and Menopause Mandate where trained nurses offer further support and guidance on the hormone cycle and any symptoms.


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