Home News Popular retailers announce retirement as Grampian Health Store passes to new owners

Popular retailers announce retirement as Grampian Health Store passes to new owners

by Rachel Symonds
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The owners of Grampian Health Store have announced they are retiring as the store is sold to new owners.

Catherine and Callum Eddie are well-known retailers in the trade and have run Grampian Health Foods since Catherine started it back in 1999 with a vision to bring natural health and wellbeing to the people of Aberdeen. Callum joined in 2001 after leaving the Army.

Starting life as Grampian Health Foods, it later changed to Grampian Health Store as the offering expanded into more VMS. Today, as well as the bricks and mortar store, there is also an online business.

Speaking to Health Food Business, Callum said the couple felt the time was right to pass the baton to people who could take the business to the next stage.

“Catherine and I are both of the mindset that life is chapters and as one chapter closes, another one begins – it just feels like the right time,” Callum explained. “I have had too many friends or working age who have passed away suddenly. Life is too short. We have had a wonderful time in the health food industry but it feels like the right time.

“Running a retail business means you are never really away from it and we also feel Aberdeen is going through a transformation period and I think in time, it will be vibrant again. We started thinking about it about 18 months ago – it was just decided it was time for someone else to take over. You need fresh blood coming through with fresh ideas to take the business forward.”

When they made the decision to retire, the couple employed a company that deals with selling businesses, however, the eventual new owners ended up being people who already had ties to the business, sisters, Stephanie Hundtofte and Sarah-Jayne Farman.

Callum went on: “Both have worked for Holland & Barrett in the past and for the last 10-15 years, Stephanie has offered food insensitivity testing from the store, so she already knew the business. When we marketed the store for sale, we would have liked one of the members of staff to take it on but that proved not to be possible. But Catherine spoke to Stephanie about it, and she was keen and came back with an offer. She already knows the store, she knows the staff and they have all been transferred over as part of the sale so they are happy.”

Looking back, it’s clear the pair have great affection for the trade they have worked in for so long.

He commented: “Catherine has been in health shops since the age of 19 when she started work for The Heath Store in Inverness. She then took over two stores in Yorkshire before moving to Aberdeen, opening the shop in Crown Street in 1999, and then we moved to a larger location. I joined after I left the Army; very different jobs but in some ways, quite similar. It was a big change for me, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

“We worked well together – Catherine’s strength was always her product knowledge and over the years, she has had so many kind letters, cards and gifts from customers saying thank you for her help. I didn’t enjoy so much the shop floor – I enjoyed more the admin side behind the scenes.”

And it an industry that the couple they have put back into as well, with Callum serving on the Health Food Institute Council, as well as The Health Store board when it was owned by retailers.

He went on: “I got involved in the Health Food Institute and then The Heath Store Management Committee and worked on the demutualisation. I then stayed on the board until it was sold to Health Made Easy, and I really enjoyed that side.”

Of course, over the many years they have been in the trade, business has changed hugely, with Callum pointing out this is the case for both retailing and wholesaling.

“We are seeing a lot more online wholesalers popping up. And there are different threats and opportunities,” he commented. “Looking forward, I don’t know where the trade will go but it will still be here, but in a different shape or form.”

And as they hand it over, the business is in a strong position, with Callum adding: “This year, we have seen turnover come back up again. Customer spend and footfall is up, which is for the first time in three or four years, so we leave a profitable business for the future.”

So, what is on the cards for the couple as they head into retirement?

Callum advised: “We bought a motorhome just before lockdown so we would really like to go out and explore and just enjoy life for a period, whether that’s in the UK and then into Europe. We also have grandchildren and they are in Yorkshire and London so we will have more time to see family.”

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