Food retailer and wholesaler Henderson Group, based in Mallusk, Newtownabbey has published financial results for 2019, reporting a turnover of £918.1m.

The figure demonstrates a total growth of 7.6% on the previous year, with like for like sales growth of 3.9% driven by a strong performance in grocery sales. The Group also noted footfall and basket spend in their network of stores showing strong growth.

Henderson Retail, which now operates 96 company-owned stores grew significantly in 2019, acquiring six new stores during the year. An additional 11 new stores were opened under the EUROSPAR, SPAR and ViVO brands by independent retailers.

Henderson Foodservice posted growth of 10.3% on 2018, performing strongly across all key channels, particularly food-to-go, contracts and independent accounts.

Ron Whitten, Chief Financial Officer at Henderson Group says these figures represent the end of a three year strategic plan which has brought benefits to every area of the business; “Since 2017, we have focused on delivering excellence in customer service, investing in our people, developing our information systems, maximising our operational efficiency, enhancing our fresh food ranges and improving our in-store proposition.”

Mr Whitten added that this strategy laid the foundations to deal with the uncertainties of Brexit and COVID-19 going into 2020; “We have had a challenging trading year in 2020, with our Foodservice company having to make redundancies due to the effect of the Pandemic, alongside a negative impact on fuel sales, as a result of fewer cars on the road due to lockdowns and restrictions. However, shoppers have appreciated the measures taken to provide a safe shopping experience which has been witnessed in increased basket spend and overall growth in retail grocery sales, offsetting the foodservice and fuel declines.”

Patrick Doody, Sales and Marketing Director at Henderson Group said their performance in 2019 meant significant investment could be made in providing safety and value to shoppers this year; “Continual Investment has always been a key strategy to the success of our business. Thanks to a growth in group sales in 2019 and 2020 to date, we have been able to negotiate this challenging and unprecedented year with confidence, to ensure our retailers and shoppers are safe and secure. We will have invested over £3m in reducing retail prices by the end of 2020, as well as spending over £1m in store safety measures such as directional signage, sanitiser stations, screens and door control measures.

“These results are reflective of our continued investment and ambition to make our brands stand out in a competitive market, implement our ‘famous for fresh’ strategy by engaging with local farmers, producers and growers, and to communicate that effectively to our shoppers with our marketing tactics.”

Mr Doody continued with a positive outlook on the challenges of this year; “We remain cautiously optimistic as we negotiate COVID and Brexit. It is absolutely imperative we avoid a ‘no-deal’ Brexit and the ensuing disruption to the supply chain and potential increase in food prices due to new tariffs. We will continue to invest with our local retailers and dedicated support to our local agri-food industry.”