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Holland & Barrett boost in-store knowledge retention by 20% and save £90,000 a year

Holland & Barrett International is one of the world’s leading health and wellness retailers and the largest in Europe.

The Challenge

As an organization with a large workforce spread across over 1,600 locations, Holland & Barrett needed a powerful and flexible learning management system that would enable them to deliver their award-shortlisted Qualified to Advise (QTA) training program simply and effectively.

The overall aim was to replace an old, no longer fit-for-purpose bespoke system and quantifiably improve knowledge retention amongst in-store colleagues, while understanding how this impacts sales performance at an individual store level.

There were four other project requirements:

  • The ability to report simply and accurately on learning participation and outcomes at an individual store and colleague level
  • To reduce the substantial amount of time spent on administrative tasks caused by the lack of functionality in their current LMS
  • To remove financial expense of maintaining their current LMS
  • To deliver the project within a short timeframe to achieve training objectives for the QTA training project as quickly as possible
The Solution

Holland & Barrett built a 120-point plus checklist covering the features required in their new LMS. In the LMS selection process, they used this to assess the features and benefits of 30 different e-learning platforms.

The selection process involved looking at both proprietary, closed-source options and open-source systems. It soon became clear that the open-source route would be far more cost effective and scalable without the need to compromise on functionality.

Totara Learn delivered on many other key project objectives including:

  • Assessing knowledge with quizzes – the quiz module was used to assess the knowledge of learners, with the in-built reporting tools used to analyze the results and deliver targeted interventions at each store based on that data
  • Structured course programs – Totara Learn’s powerful program feature enabled Holland & Barrett to combine all their required courses into a simple, modular program of learning that learners could easily access from their personalized dashboard


  • Advanced reporting – using Totara Learn’s flexible report builder enabled them to monitor progress and completions at a national, regional and store level, giving insight into progression across the business
  • Analyzing the impact on customer behavior – by comparing knowledge retention at individual store level, evidence emerged of the causal link between higher knowledge retention and purchasing behavior; in particular increased basket sizes. This represents a new level of innovation and an opportunity to demonstrate how colleague knowledge could positively impact sales performance
  • Web conferencing – Totara Learn’s flexibility enabled Hubken Group to include web conferencing in the solution. This was an unexpected game-changer, especially when the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown began and web conferencing provide a well-received, engaging alternative to face-to-face training sessions
  • Easy access to key information – another unexpected benefit during the pandemic was that Totara Learn enabled easy access to learning content as well as other information that was previously held offline or in their hard to interrogate bespoke LMS
  • Ongoing support – Hubken not only handled the implementation but provided unlimited administrator support, a crucial factor given the importance of the QTA training program. Totara Partner Hubken Group also provided value-add services ranging from administrator training to content provision as well as essential and reliable hosting services

Totara Learn opened up a whole new range of opportunities, which were previously impossible with their old LMS.

The Results
20% increase in knowledge retention

Qualified to Advise (QTA) is a comprehensive training program delivered using Totara Learn. It ensures colleagues can offer clear, up-to-date information to help customers make informed decisions about the products they purchase. Using the quiz functionality, they were able to demonstrate colleagues’ knowledge retention rate had increased from 53% to 73%.

Early evidence is that in stores where knowledge retention is highest, average basket sizes have increased – delivering an increased ROI.

Participation levels were another area of success, including:

  • 10,000 colleagues logged in 30,000 times on average per month (an average of three times per user)
  • 90% of colleagues have logged in at least once
  • 85% of logins each month are return users
£90,000 annual savings 

“We saved £90,000 annually and we now have more functionality and flexibility than before. Hubken’s Totara solution is worth its weight in gold.”
– Robert Sidley, Head of Training, Content and Quality.

Holland & Barrett’s previous bespoke LMS was no longer fit for purpose. Its complexity and poor functionality meant investing large sums of money to keep it functional. Holland & Barrett realized cost savings of approximately £90,000 compared with keeping the existing bespoke system or using a closed-source off the shelf alternative. Further savings came through mileage and accommodation costs as video conferencing replaced face-to-face sessions.

Rapid 6-week implementation

Business leaders were pressing for a rapid LMS implementation to deliver on their objectives for the QTA project. Unacceptably long implementation times of six months or more were given by many proprietary LMS suppliers. Working with Hubken Group, Holland & Barrett were able to begin using their Totara Learn system in just six weeks.

Choosing a partner that fits 

Holland & Barrett were keen to work with their choice of Totara Partner. Hubken Group stood out for two reasons. Firstly, Robert Sidley, Head of Training, Content and Quality had worked with Hubken in a previous role and been highly impressed and secondly, he and his team were guided through their options by Hubken’s expert, friendly and collaborative team who listened first before providing appropriate options. This was a key factor in enabling Holland & Barrett to achieve the results they have to date.

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