Grocery supplier Henderson Group reports pre-tax profit of £57m

The Henderson Group supplies 517 Spar, Vivo and Eurospar stores. It also owns 98 supermarkets in the north.
The Henderson Group supplies 517 Spar, Vivo and Eurospar stores. It also owns 98 supermarkets in the north.

THE company responsible for supplying the north’s Spar, Vivo and Eurospar network recorded an 8 per cent rise in pre-tax profit to £57 million last year.

The Henderson Group said its turnover climbed 15.6 per cent to £1.23 billion in the year ending December 31 2022.

It puts the Mallusk-based grocer, wholesaler and retailer among the north’s biggest locally controlled businesses. It supplies 517 stores and owns and operates 98 supermarkets.

It’s also one of the north’s biggest private sector employers. The group’s workforce grew by 325 last year, totalling 4,906 people.

Henderson’s latest accounts reflect the impact of inflation, with both turnover and cost of sales rising by around 15 per cent last year.

The group also saw its distribution costs rise 17 per cent to £89.7m last year, while administrative expenses were up 20 per cent to £106.8m.

But the retail and food service group remained highly profitable.

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The £57m profit before tax was double the figure from 2020, when the group’s foodservice division took a hit from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Group sales and marketing director, Paddy Doody, said: “It is important for us to channel our profits back into our business to create competitive opportunities for our retailers, support our local fresh foods suppliers and bring value to the shelves for our shoppers.

“The year wasn’t without its challenges, including the highest rate of food inflation we’ve seen in many years in December, however our commitment to investment and local sourcing put us in good stead and bringing value to our shoppers is always our top priority throughout our brands.”

Assessing the group’s performance across 2022, chief financial officer Ron Whitten cited a strong and improving mix within the business, continued investment and controlled operating costs.

“In 2022, we made a strategic capital investment of £33m across new and existing retail and wholesale locations, opening a further nine independent and company owned stores.

“Our foodservice company has recovered the momentum lost during the Covid-19 outbreak which particularly affected the hospitality sector and delivered a sales increase of 41.4 per cent in Northern Ireland last year.”

Mr Whitten said Henderson Foodservice repositioned post-pandemic, with an updated digital platform and now processes 40 per cent of its sales online.

The chief financial officer also said the workforce has passed the 5,000 mark in 2023.

“We are pleased with the group’s performance for 2022, achieved against a challenging backdrop. We have increased our workforce to over 5,000, continuing to invest in our teams’ development as it is the backbone of our business,” he said.

“Despite the challenging economic climate, the uptake rate of payroll giving was 19.5 per cent across the Group by December 2022.”