Business

Henderson muscles in on the big guys after continued growth

Henderson Group's sales & marketing director Paddy Doody (left) with chief financial officer Ron Whitten. Photo: Simon Graham/Harrison Photography

FAMILY-owned retailer the Henderson Group continues to make inroads into the market share of its multinational rivals, despite its turnover slipping back slightly after 15 consecutive years of unbroken sales growth.

The award-winning symbol operator - whose brands in the north include Spar, EuroSpar and Vivo - reported a turnover of £659.1m across its wholesale, retail, food-service and property divisions.

And given the "challenging and competitive" economic landscape, it described the performance as "satisfactory for all parts of the business".

Overall turnover dipped 0.7 per cent on 2014, which it blamed on the deflationary impact of fuel pricing after the international cost of crude oil fell.

Total fuel litreage increased by 6.7 per cent for the group compared with 2014, and had fuel prices remained static, this would have added £23.5m to the group turnover.

Henderson, which runs 79 company-owned Spar/EuroSpar supermarkets, and supplies to a further 343 independently owned outlets, has attributed the results to the expansion of its convenience offering alongside a continued investment in providing the highest quality fresh and local products for retailers and shoppers.

In 2015 the opening of nine new EuroSpar supermarkets and 14 new Spar stores helped the group continue its growth and dominance of the convenience and small supermarket sector here.

Indeed the 50th EuroSpar opening makes it the biggest supermarket brand in Northern Ireland by store numbers alone.

Henderson Wholesale’s ‘Enjoy Local’ brand continued to perform well in the latter half of 2015 after its initial launch, creating over £23 million of sales while supporting 25 local suppliers through 144 products.

Henderson Foodservice has also experienced a period of significant growth across Ireland, attributed to increased investment in innovation such as the development of Barista Bar. It also achieved strong sales growth of £15m from its own brand, Country Range.

Henderson Group sales & marketing director Paddy Doody said: “In 2015 we experienced continued growth in all aspects of our business. Employment from our head office and company-owned stores alone is now just over 3,000.

"In addition, through 343 independently owned EuroSpar/Spar/Vivo stores across Northern Ireland, combined employment through Hendersons and our retail partners now exceeds 10,000 staff."

He added: "With sales in the first half of 2016 running at more than five per cent, the year ahead looks promising across all operating companies within the group and with our independent retailers.

"We remain confident for our business going forward despite challenges such as Brexit and the uncertainty that creates. We expect continued growth in 2016 and will invest accordingly.”

Chief financial officer Ron Whitten added: “Maintaining such a strong set of results against a difficult economic backdrop of deflationary pressures, ever increasing competition from the discounter channel and other competitor groups to produce an underlying growth in turnover of 4.8 per cent is an excellent outcome, particularly when contrasted with the performance of the multiple sector during the period under review.

"This has enabled significant capital investment totalling £34 million during the year in new store acquisition, refurbishment of existing retail sites and associated expansion of wholesale facilities to support continued growth expectations.

"Further capital projects for 2016 and 2017 already committed to, amount to £60 million, which reinforces our commitment to further growth in our sector.”

Last year, Henderson Group announced an investment of £25m in the transformation of its headquarters in Mallusk with the development of a new office block and the construction of a new 180,000 sq ft warehouse with 31 docking stations.

Henderson Wholesale also recently acquired Dargan Press Ltd., which will merge with Henderson Print, a subsidiary of the wholesale company.

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