FOOD and drink wholesaler JW Filshill, one of Scotland’s oldest independent food and drink wholesalers, saw turnover increase 7.3% to £155 million in the year ending January 31, 2019, up from £145m the previous year.
The Glasgow-based group, which supplies 185 KeyStore convenience stores across Scotland and the north of England and has several national accounts including the Scottish Prison Service and CalMac, said that strong growth was reflected across all product categories, and delivered alongside consistent gross profit of 8.3%.
Filshill, which also supplies local craft beer, spirits and other grocery products to international markets, Asia-Pacific in particular, recently announced ambitious plans to relocate to a brand new, purpose-built distribution centre at Westway Park, near Glasgow Airport.
Keith Geddes, finance director of the fifth-generation family business, admitted that “the Brexit process had added a level of uncertainty to the business as it has done across all industries”, but said: “We believe that we have taken the necessary steps to minimise the associated risks and take advantage of the corresponding opportunities.
“The living wage, pension regulation and fuel prices continue to drive up our cost base,” he continued. “However, we continue to focus on offsetting these increases through a constant drive in improving operational efficiency and maximising our use of technology and data.”
Managing director Simon Hannah pointed to a “highly competitive and challenging” independent retail marketplace with consolidation continuing apace but said: “We seek to manage the principal risk of losing customers by aiming to deliver best-in-class customer service, and we are well positioned to continue to take advantage of the opportunities we are creating and delivering growth.”
Maintaining strong partnership-based relationships with suppliers was also a key strategy for the company, Mr Hannah said, pointing out that Filshill was recently ranked number one by suppliers in all categories in an independent survey (Advantage Group Report) across its key competitors.
Pointing to Filshill’s strong balance sheet, showing net current assets of £10.3m, up from £9.8m last year, he said: “The directors are pleased with the company performance and are confident that profits will continue at a satisfactory level.
“We’re in a strong position given current market conditions and while we continue to measure revenue, gross margin and operating profit as key financial indicators we also monitor non-financial KPIs including staff performance, vehicle fuel performance, sales service levels/range achievements, unanswered telesales call, returned orders and early warning date codes as part of our business performance review.”
During the year the company continued to support many local community programmes and good causes as part of its ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility (CSR). It also implemented several energy-saving initiatives and recycles waste where possible, in particular complying with the Producer Responsibility Obligations (Packaging Waste) Regulations 2007.