The Mallusk-based Henderson Group achieved record profits £18.4m in 2013, up 17.5% on the previous year, on a 3.6% increase in turnover on 2102 to £642.8m in 2013.

The family-run retail, wholesale and foodservice group owns the Spar, Eurospar, Vivo, and Vivoextra franchises in Northern Ireland, and supplies more than 400 stores.  It is made up of Henderson Foodservice, Wholesale, Retail and Group Property which collectively employ 2,470. Henderson Retail owns and operates more than 80 Spar and Eurospar stores in Northern Ireland. Many of these are petrol forecourt sites, affiliated with major oil brands. Henderson Group Property are specialists in the acquisition and development of retail outlets, particularly petrol forecourts and neighbourhood retail projects.

In 2013 the company continued to reinvest in the business with a capital spend of £23.1m, with ongoing development of the retail proposition in the existing store portfolio, as well as acquiring the freehold of seven stores. It also bought an additional warehouse adjacent to its Mallusk base to support continued growth, particularly of the fresh foods division.

A further £13.4m will be spent this year on existing refurbishment with additional investment to be spent on acquisitions.

Ron Whitten, group finance director, said: “In 2013 we saw a record trading performance in a busy marketplace. We are committed to improving our value proposition to both our wholesale and retail customers and have maintained our competitive advantage by ensuring our collective buying power provides them with a great offer.

“We have also developed our range of products and services while continuing to identify operational efficiencies including ongoing investment in technology, particularly in our warehouse management systems, and in our fleet management.

“While wholesale profits were flat, as a direct result of the investment in retail price support for the benefit of our independent retail partners, the company owned store division has performed particularly well, doubling its profits from 2012.We believe that is because we are offering competitive prices and investing in training and recruitment to attract and retain the best staff and deliver excellent customer service.”

Paddy Doody, sales and marketing director of the Henderson Group, said: “Our research shows that consumer demands are changing, with shoppers spending more sensibly, doing “top up” shops to avoid wastage and demanding more locally produced fresh food. We are continuing to answer those concerns with what we offer.

“We have recorded 11% growth in fresh food sales, showing that our investment in that area has paid off and we will be able to extend our offering further by increasing our chilled warehouse facilities following the acquisition of premises at Hydepark, beside our existing site."