Retail and wholesale group Henderson has said its policy of sourcing goods locally helped it avoid any shortages resulting from the NI Protocol in 2021.
Paddy Doody, a director at Henderson Group, spoke as the company announced it would be investing £47m in products, ranges and infrastructure this year.
Henderson Group said it had opened 28 Spar, Eurospar and Vivo shops around Northern Ireland during 2021 in an investment of £19.4m.
It now has 101 company-owned shops, while it also provides marketing and distribution services to over 500 grocery retailers trading as Spar, the large-format brand Eurospar or Vivo.
Henderson Retail said it would also be investing £5.3m in a marketing strategy for retailers during the year.
The introduction of the NI Protocol last year imposed EU checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain, leading to gaps on the shelves of some supermarkets on the other side of the Irish Sea.
But Mr Doody, Henderson Group sales and marketing director, said: “Our long-term local sourcing strategy has allowed us to take a strong advantage against the multiples who are suffering with delays and shortages due to the NI Protocol.
“Over 75% of our fresh food is sourced from local farmers and suppliers, which is not only better for the environment in keeping food miles low, but also for our economy to help local producers develop, expand and provide local employment.”
Mark McCammond, Henderson Group retail director, said there would be further expansion of its stores during 2022.
“Not only are we opening more large-format Eurospar supermarkets which provide market leading special offers and campaigns all year round, including matching over a thousand prices of products to Tesco, but we’re expanding the footprint and offering of our smaller format brands too,” he said.
Mr McCammond added: “We have around 26 significant projects in the pipeline for 2022, plus four further new builds to commence that will open in 2023.”
The opening of a new Eurospar in Clough outside Downpatrick in December marked Henderson Group’s 101st company-owned store.
In its latest company accounts, Henderson Group parent company John Henderson (Holdings) reported sales of £957m for 2020, as the company comes close to hitting £1bn in sales.
There were pre-tax profits of £28.5m.