Belfast Telegraph

Henderson hits the mark as staff and stores grow

By David Elliott

The company behind Spar and Vivo in Northern Ireland said its turnover climbed nearly 10% last year while profits eased slightly.

Henderson Group notched up pretax profits on its ordinary activities of £13.6m in 2011, down from £14.1m in 2010, while turnover rose 9.6% to £583.2m.

The family-owned firm also added another 250 people to the payroll to take the company's total workforce up to 2,400.

It invested £17m in new stores, refurbishment of its current portfolio and other capital projects.

In total the group added 27 new stores, five of which were purchased in September 2011 from Heathcotes Fine Foods while it also continued to build new stores, particularly the large store format EuroSpar and VivoXtra.

Over 50 stores were refurbished to introduce new product ranges and services and the company said it plans to invest a further £12m in infrastructure and refurbishments in the current.

"We are very pleased with the continued like-for-like growth in sales, as well as adding a number of new businesses to our group during 2011, despite the very difficult trading climate," Ron Whitten, group finance director, Henderson Group said.

Paddy Doody, sales and marketing director of Henderson Wholesale, which supplies over 400 Spar, EuroSpar and Vivo stores across Northern Ireland, said: "Due to the challenging economic conditions, we are more focused than ever on continuing to provide the best customer service, value for money, operational efficiency and management of our cost base."

He the said the slight dip in profits was a result of the company cutting margin on the goods it supplies to retailers who in turn are cutting margins on the goods they supply to consumers.

"It's part of a long-term investment to back long-term growth," he said.

Henderson Group consists of four companies - Henderson Wholesale, Henderson Retail, Henderson Group Property and Henderson Foodservice.