Glasgow wholesaler Filshill hikes turnover in face of Brexit blues

Food and drink wholesaler JW Filshill has reported a solid rise in turnover but admitted that Brexit had added “a level of uncertainty” to the business, alongside a rising coast base.

Managing director Simon Hannah pointed to a 'highly competitive and challenging' independent retail marketplace. Picture: Contributed

The Glasgow-based group, which supplies 185 KeyStore convenience outlets across Scotland and the north of England and holds several national accounts including the Scottish Prison Service and CalMac, saw turnover increase 7.3 per cent to £155 million in the year to the end of January.

It said the growth was reflected across all product categories, alongside a “consistent” gross profit margin of 8.3 per cent.

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The firm, which can trace its roots back to 1875 and has some 1,400 independent cash and carry customers on its books, also supplies local craft beer, spirits and other grocery products to international markets. It recently announced ambitious plans to relocate to a 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”.

He 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 added. “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.”

Highlighting Filshill’s strong balance sheet, showing net current assets of £10.3m, up from £9.8m the year before, Hannah 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 indicators 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 – a member of Unitas Wholesale – supported many local community programmes and good causes as part of its ongoing commitment to corporate social responsibility.