Northern Ireland convenience group posts £500m turnover


L to r: Henderson Group sales and marketing director Patrick Doody and Ron Whitten, group financial director: strong growth

Henderson Group, owner of the Spar, Eurospar, Vivo and Vivoxtra retail brands in Northern Ireland, has reported strong sales growth in 2009, despite tough economic conditions.

Compared to 2008, sales increased by 11% to £500m last year.

Ron Whitten, financial director, Henderson Group, said: “We are particularly pleased with the continued like-for-like growth in all categories of sales across all of the subsidiaries during 2009. The improved profit performance also reflects the impact of the significant investment in independent retailers’ businesses, in new company sites and in new owned technologies, all of which will present very good longer term growth prospects. Due to the current challenging economic conditions, our key priorities of continuing to provide first class customer service, operational efficiency and managing our cost base will be of vital importance.”

Over the last 12 months, Henderson has recruited 40 new stores into the Group. This year it is investing £33m in expansion and refurbishment plans to drive future growth, including a £3m sum to support independent retailers in local marketing.

The company is investing £14m in new warehousing and office accommodation for  Henderson Foodservice at its Mallusk site on the back of sales growth in excess of 30% since 2007. The company is planning to centralise all of its warehousing and distribution services centralised at Mallusk by 2011.

During 2009, Henderson Foodservice acquired The Streat franchise, with an annual turnover in excess of £8m, up 8% from the previous year.

Henderson Group is Northern Ireland’s leading symbol-group wholesaler. It is a family-run and owned business based in Mallusk and employs over 2,300 people. The Group comprises four companies: Henderson Retail, Henderson Wholesale, Henderson Foodservice and Henderson Group Property.

The Group supplies 422 stores across Northern Ireland under the Eurospar, Spar, Vivo, Vivoxtra and Vivo Essentials brands, of which 70 stores are owned and operated by the Group, under the Henderson Retail banner.

The Group said it was committed to its role in the social and economic development of Northern Ireland and playing its part. It was the first convenience symbol group in Northern Ireland to initiate a long-term trial on a plastic bag levy, for example. The move resulted in a 70% reduction in plastic bag usage and raised around £10,000 for the NSPCC, the Group’s charity partner.

Patrick Doody, sales and marketing director, Henderson Wholesale, said the Group’s focus on fresh food and great value appealed to shoppers and were keystones in its success.


“Our business strategy has delivered consistent profitable growth supported by a comprehensive strategic, award winning marketing campaign. The Spar own brand marketing campaign that ran throughout 2009 contributed to a 52% sales increase. As a result, the demand for our portfolio of marketing and support services remains strong across our independent retailers, and we believe our business plans for 2010 are both exciting and innovative.

“We expect the economic environment to remain challenging, disposable incomes to be under pressure and value to remain a high priority for consumers. The offer of high quality, fresh food at great value prices will continue to attract customers from our competitors and drive market share growth in the year ahead.”