Wholesaler JW Filshill battles challenging market

Simon Hannah, managing director of JW Filshill. Picture: ContributedSimon Hannah, managing director of JW Filshill. Picture: Contributed
Simon Hannah, managing director of JW Filshill. Picture: Contributed

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Glasgow-based food and drink wholesaler JW Filshill has booked a slender profit despite a fall in sales amid "market challenges".

The firm hailed the growth of its KeyStore convenience store brand, tight cost controls across the business and a steady performance by its international division as it recorded a pre-tax profit of £900,000 for the year to 31 January.

Filshill, which is one of Scotland’s oldest independent food and drink wholesalers, saw turnover fall 5.8 per cent to £143 million, reflecting a decline in tobacco sales and price deflation across several product categories, it noted.

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However, turnover of grocery and "impulse" purchases grew during the year and helped improve gross margin from 6.7 per cent to 6.8 per cent.

The company, which marked its 140th anniversary last year, made a number of key business development, sales and marketing appointments during the year as well as ramping up investment in IT and logistics. A new fascia for top KeyStore retailers will be rolled out this autumn.

Managing director Simon Hannah, the fifth generation of his family to run Filshill, said: "The market remains highly competitive but we are well positioned to take advantage of the opportunities we are creating and to return to revenue growth."

Export sales via JW Filshill International, which supplies craft beer, spirits and other products to overseas markets, are continuing to expand in line with expectations, he added.

"Cost control continues to be a key focus for the business although wage costs have risen as we continue to support and invest in our workforce," Hannah added. "Investment has been made in our business development and marketing teams, and a refocus on health and safety commenced during the year. Capital investment included IT systems, company vehicles and equipment."

JW Filshill currently supplies 168 KeyStore outlets across Scotland and the north of England. It also has 1,400 independent cash & carry and delivered customers.

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