One of Northern Ireland’s largest forecourt operators, The Henderson Group, has announced record levels of sales, investment and jobs growth in the year ending December 31, 2016.

The company, which owns the Spar, EuroSpar and Vivo brands in Northern Ireland, owns 57 forecourts and operates an additional seven.

Ron Whitten, chief financial officer, and Patrick Doody, sales and marketing director, announced the annual results during the company’s Wholesale Conference in Seville, Spain, which was attended by more than 250 of its retailers, suppliers and staff.

Turnover increased by 6% to £699.3m compared with 2015and profit on ordinary activities after interest and before taxation was £23.87m, an increase of 10.9%.

In 2016, employment levels rose to 3,099, an increase of 270 new jobs on 2015.

Like-for-like grocery sales growth of 3.5% was recorded, driven by strong performance of the fresh food categories growing in volume terms by over 8%, increasing footfall and basket spend in its supplied retailer stores.

The company said that an ongoing co-investment strategy with its retail partners to establish a market leading portfolio of supermarket, forecourt and convenience stores has boosted the strong sales performance across all its brand formats. In addition, fuel volumes in its Henderson Retail Ltd company owned stores grew by 8.6% on a like-for-like basis, driving increasing footfall to the stores.

Whitten said: “Strong like-for-like growth across all subsidiaries, high retention rates of existing retailers, recruitment of new retailers, coupled with significant investment by the group, directly within our company-owned stores as well as with its retail partners, has delivered additional sales of £40m.”

Doody added: “It was also another record year of investment by the group, with a spend of more than £34m in store acquisitions, store refurbishments and head office infrastructure, designed to future proof the business to meet consumer and retailer demands going forward. In 2016, 16 new stores were opened under the group’s main retail brands.

“Spar and EuroSpar, in particular, continue to dominate the local symbol group scene in Northern Ireland. A comprehensive strategic growth and profitability plan implemented in 2016, which included continued focus on delivering excellence in customer service, investing in our people, developing our information systems, maximising our operational efficiency, enhancing our fresh food ranges and in-store proposition, continues to yield results as projected.”