Exceptional financial results for Henderson Group – but Brexit will impact business
The family owned Henderson Group is moving towards the £1 billion turnover milestone with its latest financial results but warns that Brexit could pose significant problems in 2021.
Some key everyday products may not make it on to the shelves in January because of Brexit. Trading could be flat.
Hendersons had a turnover of £918.1 million in 2019, which is up 7.6 per cent on the previous year, driven by a strong performance in grocery sales. Its operating profit increased to £34.2 million.
Covid-19 has harmed the foodservice aspect of the business has been severely affected in 2020. It supplies pubs, restaurants, hotels and schools across Ireland.
With many outstanding issues still affecting food suppliers in Britain, including the labelling and rules applying to food with ingredients from outside the EU, Henderson is concerned at the ongoing uncertainty.
A report in the Irish News quoted Patrick Doody, sales and marketing director at Henderson Group, “We are cautiously optimistic as we negotiate Covid and Brexit, but 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 remain committed to sourcing local fresh foods from farmers, growers and suppliers, and indeed around 75 per cent of our fresh products are sourced on the island of Ireland.
“We’re acutely aware that fresh food coming into the region from Great Britain will be subjected to checks including customs declarations, and we worry that bureaucratic costs may be added to food imports.
“We simply can’t have consignments of food sitting in a lorry at Stranraer. In that situation, who will be responsible for any losses? We’re still working on the basis that there will be a deal.
“But continuity of supply is a huge concern for us, which is why we’re making as much noise as we can through our representations with the likes of Retail NI, the NI Retail Consortium and the CBI.”
Hendersons remains optimistic however – having reported exceptional 2019 performance by the group.
It operates 96 company-owned stores and services more than 400 other outlets run by independent retailers under the Spar, EuroSpar and Vivo brands.
The group’s chief financial officer Ron Whitten told the Irish News that the 2019 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.”