Henderson pledges £47m on new products and projects

Ruth and Charlie Hamilton (right) with Henderson Group chairman John Agnew and joint managing director Martin Agnew at the opening of Hamilton’s Spar Castlederg after its recent renovation
Gary McDonald Business Editor

THE locally-owned Henderson Group has revealed plans to spend £47 million this year in new products, ranges and infrastructure, with a least 26 store projects - a mix of refurbs and new-builds - lined up.

That spending blueprint involves a £5.3 million marketing strategy to support its retailers.

And it comes as the group's retail division confirmed that it invested £19.4m in community retailing in the year just ended, with the recent opening of EuroSpar Clough pushing it through the 100-store milestone (to 101).

In total, 28 new company-owned and independent Spar, EuroSpar and ViVO stores and supermarkets opened in 2021.

Mark McCammond, retail director at Henderson Group, which had annual sales of £957 million when its most recent accounts were published, said: “At the end of 2020 we made a commitment to further invest in high quality community retailing across Northern Ireland to further meet the changed needs of our retailers and shoppers.

“Henderson Retail completed 20 significant projects in 2021, including the building and expansion of EuroSpar supermarkets.

“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.

“We have around 26 significant projects in the pipeline for 2022, plus four further new builds to commence that will open in 2023.”

The ViVO brand experienced double digit growth of 10 per cent last year after the opening of 12 new stores, leading to an increase of 5 per cent in retail sales.

Paddy Doody, sales and marketing director at Henderson Group, believes independent retailers are embracing the opportunities their brands bring them locally.

He said: “Independent retailers know what their local shoppers want and that is to stay local and buy local, which they can provide thanks to our robust brand offering.

“Last year saw the UK’s largest Spar store open in Castlederg, with experienced Spar retailers Charlie and Ruth Hamilton, who operate two other stores in the Mid-Ulster area, at the helm.

“The impact the network of our company-owned and independent stores has on the industry is powerful and we have also experienced a record number of retailers converting from other convenience brands to Spar, EuroSpar or ViVO brands in the past year.”

During 2021, which was the 60th anniversary of Spar in Northern Ireland, Henderson Group honoured many of its retailers, including McGinn’s Spar in Killyclogher, which also opened in 1961 and rebranded as a Spar 10 years later.

Other retailers who celebrated milestones included Lecky’s ViVOXtra for 50 years, Clarke’s ViVO in Rostrevor for 40 years and Gilroy’s Spar in Garrison for 30 years.

Meanwhile, the 300th Spar store in Northern Ireland opened in Coagh by Andrew Davis and Graham Johnston, their sixth to open within the business partners’ Spar 77 retail group.

Henderson Wholesale now supplies to over 500 stores across the north, and continues to provide an unrivalled offering of locally sourced produce and products from the fields and farms of local suppliers.

Paddy added: “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 per cent 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.”

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