Family-owned SPAR wholesaler and leading convenience retailer, C J Lang & Son Limited, reported another annual increase in underlying profit as they continue to deliver their strategy for profitable growth.
The long-established business, based in Dundee, today (17) published its financial statement for the year-ending 30th April 2023, with pre-tax profits increasing 10.3 per cent to £3.7 million and net turnover up 4.2 per cent to £221.3m. This was their fifth year of growth in underlying profitability since the development of their five-pillar, customer facing business strategy.
Whilst continuing to outperform the Scottish retail market, the results have been delivered in a year of continual change, challenging economic climate and record food inflation. Although the relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions saw a return to some pre-pandemic shopping behaviours, the habits of shopping locally were retained by a noticeable proportion of consumers who had discovered the benefits of shopping at their local convenience store.
Last week the company also announced the acquisition of the family owned, Glasgow convenience chain Scotfresh. The acquisition will see the nine Scotfresh branded stores and 130 colleagues moving over to be supported by C J Lang. The Scotfresh stores will retain their existing branding and will be operated as a separate business unit initially, whilst being fully serviced and supported by C J Lang’s central support teams and their distribution centre based in Dundee.
C J Lang’s recent SPAR Scotland Aviemore Tradeshow at the end of September saw a record number of attendees engaging with their teams, communicating with key suppliers, customers and colleagues on their success to date and sharing their exciting plans for the future of the business.
Continuing to collaborate closely with their independent retailers, the team at C J Lang have also expanded the independent SPAR store estate, regularly engaging with them to drive growth to all customers and have added a further eleven stores during the year. At the same time, a key initiative has been about addressing the consistency of customer brand standards across the entire SPAR Scotland estate.
C J Lang CEO Colin McLean, commented, “Being genuinely Scottish has enabled us to adapt quickly and react flexibly to the ever-changing retail landscape and continue to provide a first-class service to our independent retail customers, consumers and communities at a time when they have needed us most. The company has also been first to market in the Scottish convenience marketplace with Prime Hydration drinks and Mr Beast Feastables chocolate.”
“In the past 12 months, there has been significant investment across the SPAR company store estate with new acquisitions at Deveron Road in Troon and Castletown near Thurso. The company store development programme including the award-winning store at Crosshouse, Kilmarnock, together with a number of other sites where new energy saving refrigeration, digital lighting and electronic shelf edge labels have all been progressively rolled out. A new ‘CJ’s’ food to go offer was recently launched in Garthamlock, with a variety of baguettes, chicken chunks and other tasty options, including a full offer of frozen drinks now on the menu.”
“Record levels of business investment also include new forecasting and demand planning systems being implemented for improved ‘end-to-end’ customer availability from supplier, warehousing and into SPAR stores.”
“We also continued to grow our independent customer base and make improvements to our offer to meet the changing customer needs within convenience retailing. We are now attracting the very best of Scottish retailers to join SPAR Scotland thanks to our competitive wholesale delivered package and own label SPAR range, whilst sharing the very best of our learnings from our company store investment programme.
“From our Dundee distribution base, we are far better placed than most convenience store groups to support our customers all year round. We are focusing on quality rather than quantity, ensuring that retailers with our SPAR name above the door adhere to our standards with appropriate remedial action being taken on those who fail to maintain them. With our vision of developing a solid business, not just for today but for tomorrow too, we have grown our independent sales and are excited to welcome on board more forward-thinking, quality Scottish retailers in the future.”
“Despite the changing landscape, we remain committed to our strategy for profitable growth. We have continued to implement our key strategy pillars across the business, including investing in our food to go offering, improved profitability and pricing and optimising our distribution processes.
“As a genuinely Scottish, family-owned wholesaler and retailer, we can understand our local customer needs better and respond quickly to the ever-changing market trends than most other UK managed convenience operators.”
“With record levels of financial investment signed off once again, together with our latest ScotFresh store acquisition, our SPAR Scotland momentum continues to gather pace and our business is off to a very strong start in the new financial year.”
“Our stores cover all sizes of communities across Scotland; our customers are our neighbours. I would like to thank them all, along with our suppliers, independent retailers and all our colleagues, for their continued support” he concluded.