Profits stable for A.F. Blakemore despite hit to sales

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A.F. Blakemore has reported stable profits despite the hit on annual sales partly due to the Covid-19 pandemic disruptions.

Pre-tax profits for the financial year ending 30 April 2020 remained stable at £6.1 million, up from the previous year’s figure of £6m, while overall sales saw a decline of 7.2 per cent from £1.14 billion to £1.05bn. Net assets grew significantly from £78.5m to £85.7m.

The wholesaler said the sales have been impacted by the conclusion of the company’s cash and carry disposal and Covid-19-related reductions in its foodservice business.

“This was an excellent result, as the company incurred many increases in costs and provisions to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic,” commented Peter Blakemore, chairman of A.F. Blakemore & Son.

The strong performance of convenience retail divisions has helped to balance the reduction in sales across the foodservice and wholesale distribution divisions, which have been impacted by a significant decline in business across the travel, tourism, leisure and educational sectors due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company said.

“The company has enjoyed strong sales throughout the pandemic in the supply and operation of convenience stores. Great customer service, strong availability and an investment in retail pricing within our managed estate have resulted in like-for-like sales consistently outperforming our competitors.”

The company said it has significantly increased investment in its wholesale pricing structure, making a further £2.4 million available to maintain retailers’ ability to compete.

A.F. Blakemore added that it has made a number of significant investments during the last two years as part of its ongoing commitment to growing a sustainable business for the future.

Last year the company commenced construction of a multi-temperature distribution depot in Bedford, which will be operational from late spring 2021.

In July 2020, it also purchased online retailer and wholesaler Vegan Store, a move that has further diversified the Blakemore group’s portfolio of brands.

The company has continued to invest in technology and digital platforms, enhancing its online operations across B2B and B2C markets. During the first lockdown the business launched a successful within-the-hour retail home delivery service, which is set to see further growth and expansion in the year ahead, the firm said.

“Whilst the Covid-19 pandemic is causing market volatility, I believe the company is well-positioned to take advantage of new opportunities as a result of an increased capability to change and respond to these fluid market conditions,” Blakemore said.