AF Blakemore’s sales for the year ending 30 April 2020 declined by 7.2% from £1.14 billion to £1.05 billion, but pre-tax profits rose slightly – from £6 million to £6.1 million – and net assets grew from £78.5 million to £85.7 million.
Sales were affected by the conclusion of the company’s cash & carry disposal and a COVID-19 related decline in its foodservice business. Nevertheless, chairman Peter Blakemore was pleased with the progress made by the company. He commented: “This was an excellent result, as the company incurred many increases in costs and provisions to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic.
“The company has enjoyed strong sales throughout the pandemic in the supply and operation of convenience stores. Great customer service, strong availability and an investment in retail pricing within our managed estate have resulted in like-for-like sales consistently outperforming our competitors.”
AF Blakemore has made a number of significant investments as part of its commitment to growing a sustainable business.
Last year the company commenced construction of a multi-temperature distribution depot in Bedford. This will provide the cornerstone of future logistics infrastructure and will be operational from late spring 2021.
In July 2020 AF Blakemore purchased online retailer and wholesaler Vegan Store, a move that has further diversified the Blakemore group’s portfolio of brands.
The company has continued to invest in technology and digital platforms, enhancing its online operations across B2B and B2C markets. During the first lockdown the business launched a successful within-the-hour retail home delivery service, which will see further growth and expansion in the year ahead.
In addition, AF Blakemore has continued to develop its ‘store cluster’ strategy, which aims to deliver store propositions aligned to the needs of consumers, with a focus on ‘food for now’ and ‘food for later’.
The company has significantly increased investment in its wholesale pricing structure, making a further £2.4 million available to maintain retailers’ ability to compete.
The strong performance of AF Blakemore’s convenience retail divisions has helped to balance the reduction in sales across its foodservice and wholesale distribution divisions, which have been impacted by a significant decline in business across the travel, tourism, leisure and educational sectors due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Blakemore said: “Whilst the COVID-19 pandemic is causing market volatility, I believe the company is well positioned to take advantage of new opportunities as a result of an increased capability to change and respond to these fluid market conditions.
“I would like to thank colleagues, customers and supply partners for their hard work and support throughout the past year, ensuring that we have continued to supply food and essential services to the communities we serve.”