Fifth-generation Glasgow wholesaler JW Filshill sees annual sales jump despite supply chain woes

Fifth-generation food and drink wholesaler JW Filshill has overcome supply issues and pandemic disruption to book an increase in annual sales and earnings.

The Glasgow-based group is one of the country’s longest established wholesalers, supplying scores of KeyStore convenience outlets across Scotland and the north of England, and holds several national accounts including with the Scottish Prison Service.

Its accounts for the year to the end of January 2022 show turnover increasing to £200 million – up from £191m the year before.

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Operating profits rose to £2.7m from £2.3m while net assets grew to £17.1m compared with £15.2m the previous year, an increase of 12.6 per cent.

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Keith Geddes, chief financial and operating officer, said that while sales and operations during the year were once again heavily impacted by the pandemic, tight controls and efforts by the team “minimised disruption and helped us continue to grow the business and deliver a high level of service to our customers”.

The company - which last month ramped up investment ahead of its move to a new distribution centre in early 2023 with the acquisition of the Iain Hill wholesale business, located just a few miles away in Linwood - recorded a gross profit margin of 8.5 per cent during the year, improving on the year before.

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Geddes, pointing to recent rising inflation and the cost-of-living crisis, noted: “This causes uncertainty for the group, our staff and our customers and suppliers.”

He added: “Operating costs remained inflated [during the year under review] due to the increased provision of PPE, increased cleaning resource and implementation of social distancing where required.

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JW Filshill was founded in Glasgow in 1875 and supplies KeyStore outlets across Scotland and the north of England. It also has 1,600 independent delivered customers.

“However, the directors are pleased with the company performance and are confident that profits will continue at a satisfactory level going forward.”

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He cautioned that the group remained exposed to various financial and non-financial risks, including a highly competitive independent retail market and the risk of debts becoming irrecoverable. “The group operates tight credit control processes and has entered credit insurance arrangements for certain key balances,” Geddes noted.

He added: “Industry-wide supply issues have been a challenge. However, to offset this the group works hard to maintain strong partnership-based relationships with all suppliers and we were recently ranked number one by suppliers in an independent survey by The Advantage Group across our key competitors all over the UK for the 12th consecutive year.”

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The firm, which can trace its roots back to 1875, said it continued to heavily engage with its workforce on health and wellbeing, with this work recognised through winning several industry awards.

Chief executive Simon Hannah said: “Mental health and wellbeing remains at the heart of our strategy and we recognise that as a responsible employer we need to do this not only for our employees and their families but also because of the positive impact it has on our business and our customers.

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“Our safety-first culture is a cornerstone of everything we do and our workforce retention and ability to recruit has been positively impacted by these initiatives,” he added.

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Pandemic presents highs and lows for Glasgow food and drink wholesaler JW Filshi...

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