Blakemore boosts profits on the back of c-store boom

AF Blakemore, the Spar, foodservice and cash and carry wholesaler, which also supplies a number of Greggs and Subway franchises,  this week announced that it has added £120 million to its sales as it benefits from increased spending in the convenience store and out-of-home sectors.

Willenhall-based Blakemore, which was founded in 1917 as a grocery store and is now run by the third generation of the family, said the rise to £1.28 billion was “encouraging in a year which had encountered many challenges.”

The firm also said that pre-tax profit had risen from £7.6m by 8.5% to £9m in the year to April 30, 2015.

Blakemore employs around 8,000 people and runs several divisions including logistics, design and shopfitting alongside its core wholesale business.

Managing director Peter Blakemore (pictured) said: “These are encouraging results in a year when food retailing and wholesaling has encountered many challenges.

“Innovations have included our continued focus upon food service, fresh foods and food to go, which has included opening 19 Subways and three Greggs franchises, to enhance the retail offer to the consumer.

“Supermarkets have continued to attract lower sales while convenience stores have witnessed growth in both numbers and turnover.

“We have continued to attract new stores and we have invested considerable time and money to help our independent retailers develop their stores.”

Blakemore told The Daily Telegraph last week(November 28) that the company’s decision to invest in stores was paying off.

“It felt like the recession had gone on forever and we knew it would stay tough for a while longer,” he told the newspaper. “We took the big decision to invest in our stores at that point [in 2012], and also reduce our prices – both what we were charging independent retailers and the prices they charged the consumer in the shop.”

That year, and every year since, the company has ploughed £10m into its Spar retail stores to make them more welcoming and shaped for the local community.

This was the first full year the group, one of the UK’s biggest wholesalers and largest member of the Landmark group, has benefited from the inclusion of BA Cash & Carry following its buyout in early 2014 (see Wholesale News, March 2014) while the current financial year has seen 162 newSpar stores join the group, 101 of which are based at Euro Garages sites.

Two per cent of the company’s profits go into the Blakemore Foundation, a charitable trust; with the remainder ploughed back into the business.

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