Scottish SPAR wholesaler and retailer CJ Lang & Son increased turnover for the first time in four years – by 2.6% to £187.9 million – in the year ending 30 April 2019.
Margins also improved, to 24.3% from 23.9% in the previous year. Underlying profits, before exceptional costs, increased by 56% to £764,000.
The booking of a significant one-off cost of £1.6 million, primarily to cover asset write-downs and lease charges resulting from the disposal of six long-term loss-making stores (one was closed, five were transferred to other retailers), resulted in the posting of a net loss.
Sales through CJ Lang’s company-owned stores, on a like-for-like basis, were up by 4.6% in the year ending 30 April 2019. CJ Lang currently has 113 company-owned stores, and this year it continues to be the top sales performer among the UK’s five SPAR wholesalers.
It has plans to open two new company-owned stores – one in Gilmerton, Edinburgh (due to open in the first quarter of 2020), the other in Larbert (date to be confirmed). Results from its flagship store in Havannah Street, Glasgow, are being analysed with the aim of implementing initatives across its estate. For example, most of the company-owned stores will have a Costa Express by the end of November. F’real MilkShakes and Tango Ice Blast/Skwishee are also being rolled out across the company-owned estate.
CJ Lang’s CEO Colin McLean commented: “I am pleased to report the growth in turnover and underlying profit. It confirms that the very early stages of our strategy for growth, outlined last year, are driving positive change.
“Buoyed by last year’s good summer, our growth is a result of several key changes, including a focus on improving and implementing consistent store standards, the development of our independent customer base, and improvements to our offer in order to meet the changing customer needs within convenience retailing.”
McLean added: “During the year we have had to take difficult decisions necessary to improve the profitability of our business and either disposed of or closed several long-term, loss making stores. Like many other retailers, we are also experiencing significant cost increases in a highly challenging retail market.
“We will continue to follow our strategic path, focusing initially on a back to basics programme, coupled with initiatives to improve our offer, attract more independent retailers to SPAR Scotland and to improve the profitability of our business.”
An increasing number of retailers are choosing to join SPAR Scotland – the number of independents serviced by CJ Lang is up to 212 from around 180 two years ago.
“As the SPAR wholesaler for Scotland, we are focused on providing our customers with our excellent SPAR award-winning own label ranges, together with the best local ranges and deals to give them a real reason to shop in our stores,” said McLean.
The directors of CJ Lang are presenting a five-year strategy to shareholders at the end of November and will hold a trade show on 26 March 2020 in Aviemore to share its message with retailers and suppliers. “We are making good progress and have a very clear direction,” McLean concluded.
Tel: CJ Lang (01382) 512100
Published Date: October 3, 2019