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Spar owner buys Dargan Press to boost print services

By Margaret Canning

Published 12/02/2016

Henderson Group has been trading for more than four decades
Henderson Group has been trading for more than four decades

Family firm Henderson Group - the business behind retailer Spar in Northern Ireland - has announced the acquisition of a printing business for an undisclosed sum.

Henderson said its printing arm, which carries out contracts for other companies, will now merge with Dargan Press following what's thought to be a multi-million pound transaction.

Just over 10 Dargan Press employees will transfer to Henderson Wholesale employment from Monday.

Dargan Press has been in business for well over three decades and had a turnover of £1.5m in 2015. But it's understood founder and owner Richard Traynor wished to pursue other interests after half a century in printing.

As part of the deal, Henderson Group will move from its Hightown Avenue home to the premises of Dargan Press on Michelin Road.

Henderson Print has been trading for more than four decades.

Ron Whitten, Henderson Group financial director, said: "The purchase of Dargan Press Limited means that we can provide an enhanced range of print services to our mutual customers and attract new business."

And he said the modern premises of Dargan Press were a further attraction.

He added: We are delighted to have the opportunity to build on the successful operation Richard has developed over previous years, to retain the business in local ownership and further secure the future of its operations."

He said there were "many synergies" between the two businesses.

"We have no doubt that by combining resources we will be well positioned to provide an even better and more competitive offering to both existing and new print customers."

Henderson has owned the Spar franchise, which originated in Holland, since 1960.

There are 322 Spar stores in Northern Ireland - 280 in the Spar convenience store format and 44 in the larger Eurospar supermarket guise.

In its last accounts for the year ending December 31, parent company John Henderson (Holdings) Ltd had pre-tax profits of £21.2m, up 16% from £18.2m, and turnover of £663m, up 3% from £642.8m.

There are four companies in the family - a wholesale company, which includes the printing business, a retail firm, a foodservice business and a property company.

Last year the company's sales and marketing director Paddy Doody said the firm's strategy was to constantly reinvest in the business.

"Look at 2014's performance - with profit after-tax of £16.2m, operating profit of £21.1m - we had a capital expenditure spend of £24.1m," he said.

Joint managing directors Geoffrey and Martin Agnew are the great-grandsons of the founder John Henderson, who started as a bread and milk wholesaler in St George's Market in 1897.

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