Henderson Group’s Paddy Doody warns of ‘fairly rough’ outlook

Henderson Group’s Paddy Doody warns of ‘fairly rough’ outlook

Henderson Group sales and market director Paddy Doody has warned of “fairly rough” years to come for the economy even as its sales passed £1bn for the first time.

Mr Doody called on new Prime Minister Liz Truss to prioritise Northern Ireland, including ensuring the £400 energy bills discount was swiftly paid out.

“We need to get that in everyone’s pockets,” Mr Doody said.

Annual results for food retailer and wholesaler group John Henderson Holdings show a turnover for 2021 of almost £1.1bn, up 11%. Before tax, the firm made a net profit of nearly £52.7m, up 85% on 2020.

But Mr Doody warned: “When these figures were achieved, we didn’t have the war in Ukraine, and we didn’t have the food price inflation and energy costs that we’re currently experiencing.

“Those are things that are front of mind as a business for us going forward this year and into 2023. There’s some fairly significant headwinds hitting us, but also every business.”

He predicted that from a general business point of view, the next two years could be “fairly rough,” with its producers and suppliers all experiencing massive increases in costs.

“We’re going to be hit with energy bills for our own business, bearing in mind that we own and operate 100 shops ourselves. We have over half a million square foot of warehousing up in Mallusk and we have a fleet of almost 100 commercial vehicles, plus other smaller vehicles, so these energy costs this year are going to cost us multiple millions.”

Mr Doody said the business was concerned about the “headwinds” which were contributing to the rising cost of doing business, leading to the closure of bakery chain The Cookie Box and the announcement by Patisserie Valerie of the shuttering of its three branches here.

During 2021, the group’s workforce reached 4,581, with a pay bill of £105.6m.