Henderson Group continues expansion after record year
Northern Ireland food and retail company Henderson Group has announced a 3.6% rise in turnover to nearly £643m as it marked a record year in 2013.
The retail, wholesale and foodservice giant, which employs over 2,400 people, also announced record profits of £18.4m in 2013, up 17.5% on the previous year.
The family-run group, based in Newtownabbey, owns the Spar, Eurospar, Vivo and Vivoxtra franchises in Northern Ireland and supplies over 400 stores.
It is made up of Henderson Foodservice, Wholesale, Retail and Group Property, which employ 2,470.
The company said it had continued to reinvest in the business in 2013, spending £23.1m on its shops and buying the freehold of seven stores.
It also bought a new warehouse beside its Mallusk base for the storage of chilled produce and the company vowed to continue spending in 2014, with plans to spend £13.4m on other refurbishments and to invest in acquisitions.
Group finance director Ron Whitten said: "In 2013 we saw a record trading performance in a busy marketplace.
"We are committed to improving our value proposition to both our wholesale and retail customers and have maintained our competitive advantage by ensuring our collective buying power provides them with a great offer."
He said the company had made its operations more efficient by investing in technology, particularly in its warehouse management systems.
Flat wholesale profits were the result of "retail price support" to benefit their independent retail partners. However, the store division, which operates nearly 80 company-owned stores, had performed well, and had doubled its profits from 2012.
Mr Whitten said: "We believe that is because we are offering competitive prices and investing in training and recruitment to attract and retain the best staff and deliver excellent customer service."
The company was also benefiting from changes in customers' approach to shopping, according to sales and marketing director Paddy Doody.
"Our research shows that consumer demands are changing, with shoppers spending more sensibly, doing 'top up' shops to avoid wastage and demanding more locally produced fresh food," he said.
"We are continuing to answer those concerns with what we offer.
"We have recorded 11% growth in fresh food sales, showing that our investment in that area has paid off and we will be able to extend our offering further by increasing our chilled warehouse facilities following the acquisition of premises at Hydepark, beside our existing site."