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Company Report: Henderson Group


John Henderson (Holdings) is a family-controlled parent to eight trading subsidiaries with a range of wholesale and retail activities in food distribution mainly in Northern Ireland. In recent years it's shown improved annual results although, exceptionally, pre-tax profits were fractionally lower in 2017.

Henderson Wholesale holds the franchise for Spar, Vivo and VG and offers services to more than 450 retail outlets.

Other subsidiaries include Henderson Retail, which has a network of 79 directly-owned supermarket, neighbourhood and forecourt stores as well as seven other stores trading under licence.

Henderson Foodservice provides food services to the catering trade. Year by year the group has expanded by additional investment and by acquisition. During 2017, 25 stores were transferred from other competitor groups, five new stores were opened and six other stores acquired.

On an increased level of turnover, up nearly £60m on the previous year, operating profits at £26m also increased.

Operating profits, at 3.5% of turnover, point to competitive pressures in the business. In the review of financial performance in 2017, the profit and loss accounts show an impairment of £6.3m on a revaluation of property, compared to a similar cost of £3.5m in 2016.

The group is managing with relatively low levels of external borrowing. Net borrowing fell in 2015 and 2016 but increased by £2.5m in 2017. The balance sheet value of shareholders' funds at the end of 2017 was over £173m - doubled in the last seven years. Employment in the group has increased and averaged 3,387 people in 2017.

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