It has been confirmed that Independent Irish Health Foods (IIHF) has been acquired by Bellingham Capital.
Bellingham Capital (BellCap) has announced the acquisition of the wholesaler and owner of the True Natural Goodness brand. IIHF is a leading distributor and wholesaler of health foods and related products to over 1,000 customers across the island of Ireland and continental Europe. The company, which is headquartered in Ballyvourney, Co. Cork, had a turnover of €25m in FY21 and employs 89 people.
In a statement, BellCap said the day-to-day operations of IIHF will continue as normal and the company’s co-founders, Richard Wilkins and Henry Bartlett, will be remaining with the business to support it in consultancy roles.
Part of the Bellingham Group established by Mark Goodman and headquartered in Castlebellingham, County Louth, BellCap is a food investment fund founded in 2021. The Bellingham Group operates across the farming, hospitality and retail food distribution sectors and its companies employ 230 people. Bellingham Group companies currently have a combined turnover of €80m.
Goodman, who is CEO of BellCap, commented: “We are very pleased with this acquisition, our second in the healthy and sustainable food space. I would like to thank all the staff and customers of IIHF, who we look forward to working closely with in the coming months, and particularly the founders, Richard and Henry. Our intention is to have a collaborative partnership with the team at IIHF and to continue to build upon the great work they have been doing, while also helping to further develop and expand the company in a positive way.”
Richard Wilkins and Henry Bartlett, Co-Founders of Independent Irish Health Foods, added: “This is a very exciting time and the acquisition of IIHF represents a positive step forward for the company. Bellingham Capital is the ideal partner for the business as it seeks to continue to build on its investments in the health foods sector. We look forward to working with Mark Goodman and his team as we look to position IIHF for further growth on both the Irish and international markets.”
In 2021, Bellingham Capital acquired National Organic Products, owner of the Bunalun brand.
The acquisition has attracted a mixed response from Irish retailers.
Finn Murray, from The Hopsack, Dublin, commented: “The writings on the wall for so many independent companies, as we witness a seismic shift towards larger corporate entities entering our market. Who knows what the future holds apropos this acquisition, but one thing is for sure – it’s going to get harder and harder for us to keep carving our furrow as independent retailers, and our responsibility to our customers to heighten our vigilance over the ethics of the ownership of the brands and suppliers we deal with is going to be a critical part of our success as an industry going forward.”
Meanwhile, Sandra Breen, from Horans Health Stores, went on: “I wish Richard and all at IIHF well and congratulate them on a successful sale. I look forward to meeting Mark Goodman and all the team at Bellingham soon. There are many important issues to discuss, not least how we can all help the health food sector continue to prosper into the future.”
Referencing the change in ownership from familiar family run to venture capital, Gerald Colfer, Health Stores Ireland President and owner of Only Natural, Wexford, added: “I look forward to meeting the new owners . Success in business depends in part on an ability to adapt and keep an open mind when faced with any new situation.”