Grocery giant Henderson reports 20% rise in pre-tax profit to £69m

Spar, Vivo and Eurospar supplier recorded £1.338bn in revenue last year

The Henderson Group's revenues grew by 11.4 per cent to £1.066bn last year, a record for the grocery and food business.
The Mallusk-based Henderson Group's pre-tax profit jumped by around 20% last year.

The grocery supplier behind the north’s Spar, Vivo and Eurospar network saw its profit-before-tax rise by more than 20% last year to £68.8 million.

The Henderson Group said total revenue increased by £108m (8.6%) to £1.338 billion in the year ending December 31 2023.

The Mallusk-based grocer, wholesaler and retailer, which supplies around 500 convenience stores in the north, and owns around 100 itself, said its grocery departments experienced significant growth in 2023.

It contributed to an £11.7m uplift in pre-tax profit from the £57.1m it recorded in 2022.

But the company said the trading conditions for the first half of 2024 have proved more challenging.

The group’s new chief financial officer Neil Gamble said: “Principally, the impact of inflation, higher interest rates (and mortgage payments) and general deterioration in consumer sentiment has meant like for like sales performance up to the end June 2024 has slowed considerably to 2.4%.”

The Henderson Group, which also operates a food service and technology division, remains one of the north’s biggest locally controlled businesses and private sector employers.

Its workforce grew by 220 to 5,126 people last year, with the wage bill coming in at just over £132m.

Mr Gamble said the group’s 2023 performance was underpinned by its customer service and warehouse facilities, strong stock availability throughout the year and ongoing investment in wholesale and retail pricing.

He said lower margin categories such as tobacco and fuel also made up a lower proportion of total sales last year.

Henderson Group retail director Mark McCammond said: “This is like no other EuroSpar we've built before”
The Henderson Group said lower margin categories such as tobacco and fuel represented a lower proportion of total sales during 2023, whereas the remaining grocery departments saw significant growth.

“In 2023, retention of existing retailers and recruitment of new retailers to our symbol brands were key to success, while our ongoing co-investment strategy with retail partners helped us to establish a best-in-class portfolio of supermarkets, forecourts and convenience stores which has facilitated that strong sales performance,” he said.

The group’s all-island food service business also continued to make up significant ground on the momentum lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Sales grew by 19.7% year-on-year to £225m.

The group said it plans to recycle most of its profits back into the business with around £52m to be injected in wholesale and retail pricing together capital projects.

“The directors will continue to invest in retail and wholesale pricing to give shoppers even better value, while our store refit and development plans, logistics, IT infrastructure and people development investments will continue apace,” added Mr Gamble.

The Henderson Group begin installing electric vehicle charging points across its estate during 2023, while 1,494 solar panels were installed to cover 75% of the newest distribution warehouse at its Mallusk headquarters.

“Solar panels were also installed across 23 more Henderson Retail stores in 2023, reducing the company’s annual electricity consumption by around 160 tonnes of carbon,” said the CFO.

The second phase of the group’s solar panel installation across warehouses and stores is ongoing.