Belfast Telegraph

Two Northern Ireland family firms hit UK list with £2bn sales

Hendersons joins W&R Barnett on league table

William Barnet of W&R Barnet
William Barnet of W&R Barnet
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

Northern Ireland family firms Henderson Group and W&R Barnett have been ranked in a list of the UK's most successful companies after achieving joint sales of nearly £2bn.

The wholesale and retail business Henderson, which owns the Spar convenience store franchise in Northern Ireland, and W&R Barnett, a conglomerate with interests ranging from molasses to packaging, achieved joint sales of £1.9bn.

W&R Barnett's most recent turnover hit £1.1bn as it broke the £1bn barrier for the first time, while Henderson Group had sales of £759m. W&R Barnett achieved profits of £63m.

During 2017, Hendersons acquired new shops, refurbished stores and developed a new 180,000sq ft warehouse in Mallusk. Profits reached £39m.

W&R Barnett and Henderson Group are joining national names like Aston Martin, Dyson, JCB and Specsavers in the annual Sunday Times HSBC Top Track 100 league table, which will be published on Sunday.

It's the second year in a row that they have appeared on the list - although last year, their joint sales were just £1.6bn.

And employment at W&R Barnett, based at Belfast Harbour, has reached 1,485, while Henderson Group's workforce hit 3,387.

Amanda Murphy, head of commercial banking at HSBC UK, said: "Once again, the UK's most ambitious private enterprises have shown their mettle to grow at an even faster rate than the year before.

"The businesses in the Top Track 100 are an inspiration, showing what can be achieved with entrepreneurial spirit and determination to succeed."

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

The company is the group company of subsidiaries including Henderson Wholesale, owner of the franchise for Spar, Eurospar and Vivo. It provides marketing and distribution to over 450 grocery retailers.

The subsidiaries also include catering business Henderson Foodservice and Henderson Retail - which owns and operates 79 stores.

This week, Henderson Foodservice announced the acquisition of Monaghan-based food business BD Foods.

The Barnett family, owners of W&R Barnett, started out as farmers in Templepatrick and set up their first silos at the harbour in 1937.

It's now led by chief executive William Barnett. In 1946, his relative William Barnett bequeathed his house and grounds close to Shaws Bridge in the south of the city to Belfast Corporation. They became known as Malone House and Barnett Demesne.

Belfast Telegraph