Belfast Telegraph

Company Snapshot: John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd

A success story of sustained growth

By John Simpson

John Henderson (Holdings) is the parent company to a number of subsidiaries with a range of activities, wholesale and retail, in food distribution mainly in Northern Ireland and also in the Republic of Ireland.

In 2010, the group continued a successful period of annual increases in turnover over more than 20 years usually matched by improvements in operating profits.

Henderson Wholesale holds the franchise for Spar, Vivo and VG in Northern Ireland and through these franchise activities offers services to over 422 retail outlets.

Other subsidiaries include Henderson Retail which has a network of 70 directly owned supermarkets and forecourt stores. Henderson Foodservice provides a food service to the catering trade. The expansion of the businesses continued in 2008 with the spending of over £3m on the acquisition of Bell's Food Stores and the Moyle Supermarket.

More recently, the group has purchased The Streat franchising company.

In the last 20 years turnover has grown nearly fivefold to reach £532m in 2010. The expansion seems to have come from a combination of expansion in the existing businesses and from investment in the purchase of new businesses.

The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds has also reflected the success of the businesses, going from a modest £4m in 1990 to reach £86m at the end of 2010.

Employment in the group has stabilised in the last three years, with a small 4% fall in 2010 to average 2,175 people.

Operating profits and pre-tax profits in 2010 are shown after excluding an exceptional charge of £1.9m linked to an impairment charge on some retail activities. The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds has been adjusted after deducting an assessed reduction in the value of assets of £10.8m in 2009 and £2.9m in 2010.

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