Henderson Group, owners of the Spar, Eurospar, Vivo and Vivoextra retail brands, has announced what it described as an "exceptional" performance for 2009 despite the tough economic trading conditions.

Ron Whitten, financial director, Henderson Group, said: “Turnover has increased by 11 per cent compared to 2008. 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.”

During the year, Hendersons recruited 40 new stores into the group. In 2010, The Henderson Group will invest £33 million in expansion and refurbishment plans to drive future growth. Of this £33m, independent retailers will be supported by a £3m investment in local marketing, with an additonal £6m spent by Spar UK nationally, marketing Spar.

Henderson Group is Northern Ireland’s leading symbol-group wholesale provider. A family run and owned business based in Mallusk, and employing over 2,300 people, it consists of four companies; Henderson Retail, Henderson Wholesale, Henderson Foodservice and Henderson Group Property.

The group supplies 422 stores across Northern Ireland encompassing food retail brands Eurospar, Spar, Vivo, Vivoextra and Vivo Essentials; 70 stores are owned and operated by the Group, under Henderson Retail Ltd.

Patrick Doody, sales and marketing director, Henderson Wholesale, commenting on the annual results, said: “Henderson Group has delivered another strong set of results. Once again, our focus on fresh food and great value appealed to shoppers everywhere, and we have successfully grown sales to record levels.

“Our business strategy has delivered consistent profitable growth supported by a comphrehensive strategic, award winning marketing campaign. The ‘SPAR Own Brand’ marketing campaign that ran thoughout 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."