JW Filshill has completed its relocation from Hillington to its purpose-built distribution centre and head office at Westway Park near Glasgow Airport.
The move – a £5 million investment – marks an important step in its goal to hit £350 million turnover by February 2031 and follows last year’s acquisition of the independent Iain Hill Ltd wholesale business, which bolstered Filshill’s modern fleet of vehicles and strengthened its pool of experienced staff.
Chief executive officer Simon Hannah said that the new 120,400 sq ft depot at Westway Park will now enable the wholesaler to increase its operational capacity and open more stores from Wick down to Doncaster. The fifth-generation family business presently supplies 216 KeyStore convenience stores across Scotland and the north of England plus national accounts including the Scottish Prison Service. It also has 1,600 independent customers.
Its initial targets (in the year to February 2024) are to sign up around 30 new KeyStores, increase turnover from £200 million (2022) to £219 million, deliver 11 million cases of product (10.5 million last year), and achieve 95% deliveries on time and 95% availability (an improvement from 93% for each KPI last year).
The wholesaler has also refreshed its KeyStore branding, which now features on five of its vehicles and two KeyStore shops, with a plan to roll this out to other stores over the next few years. The new KeyStore branding will also appear on the Filshill website, which will be relaunched in July.
Commenting on the new premises and its importance to the company’s growth plans, Hannah said: “Operating out of these bespoke premises, which have been designed to our exact specification as part of our 10-year growth strategy, will improve our efficiency and productivity as we invest in the long-term success of the company, protect future revenue streams and increase customer satisfaction.
“We are an award-winning wholesaler with ambitious growth plans, and our new distribution centre puts us in an ideal position to achieve our ambitions, expand the KeyStore estate, and work in partnership with our customers and suppliers for mutual benefit.”
Hannah added: “While we are disappointed that the pandemic and unforeseen planning issues delayed our move to Westway Park, we are delighted to now be fully operational as a business from what is one of the most modern and efficient food and drink distribution depots in the UK.
“We will use the facility to drive unrivalled operational efficiency and promote the keenest prices as we aspire to become the most frictionless wholesaler in Scotland for our customers and suppliers to do business with.
“Incorporating the high-level skills of our people across the business and the most up-to-date technology and equipment, Westway Park marks the start of a new phase of a journey for the Filshill family that started in Paisley in 1875.”
The 16-metre-high warehouse has 12 loading docks and an innovative four-floor pick tower which can hold approximately 1,520 pallets. There is also standard storage racking with capacity to hold 8,650 pallets.
Gravity-fed live racking benefits from a semi-automated shuttle system which holds 1,155 pallets of Filshill’s fastest-selling products, generating significant operational efficiency. This is a first for wholesaling in Scotland, according to the company.
The new premises have 211 solar panels covering 400 sq m of roof space, and there are electric vehicle charging points. A wildflower garden is being created and beehives are being put in place.
The distribution centre has also been designed with the comfort of staff in mind, with the offices created to make the most of natural light and provide employees with a comfortable working environment that will help boost both productivity and mental health.
Filshill’s 10-year strategy focuses heavily on engagement with its 216-strong workforce on health and wellbeing, particularly with regard to mental health. “This 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,” said Hannah.
“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. The new working environment at Westway will further cement this commitment.”
He added: “We are a business for families, not a family business, and that’s an articulation that more clearly defines our culture as opposed to our ownership structure. It is really important to us that people are proud of being part of this business.”
Filshill saw turnover increase to £200 million – up 4.4% from £191 million – in the year ending 31 January 2022. Operating profits increased from £2.3 million to £2.7 million, and gross profit was £17 million. Net assets grew to £17.1 million from £15.2 million the previous year.
Published Date: March 29, 2023