Filshill weathers storm as profit slips

JW Filshill has revealed a drop in pre-tax profits from £1.24m to £900,000 while turning over £169m. The company said it maintained its turnover thanks to an increased investment in marketing, promotions and improving operating cost efficiencies through technology.

The Glasgow-based wholesaler, which owns the KeyStore convenience store brand, invested heavily in consumer-facing marketing and advertising campaigns to support the 168 independent retailers who trade under the KeyStore fascia.

Simon Hannah, Managing Director, said that the company was “satisfied” with its performance in a “very challenging trading environment”. He said: “It’s no secret that the march of the supermarkets into the convenience retail sector is having an impact on all food distributors. The multiples now view the convenience retail sector as a very lucrative one and existing independent stores are under further pressure every time a Tesco Express or Sainsbury’s Local opens for business in their neighbourhood. That’s why we have upped the ante from a marketing perspective and are adopting a consumer-facing approach, utilising Facebook and working closely with our suppliers to offer keen deals and promotions that are exclusive to KeyStore.”

Hannah admitted that bad debts during the year had also impacted on the business, with a number of customers, including a significant multiple forecourt operator, defaulting. “There’s always a risk of bad debts in our type of business and because many of our customers have been unable to secure financing to develop their shops through the banks, it has become more of an issue.”

JW Filshill has since launched a bespoke Epos system designed to save retailers both time and money, help them run their businesses more cost-efficiently and maximise sales opportunities. The RE-SCAN system is available free on loan to all of JW Filshill’s KeyStore customers, and incorporates various functions that enable retailers to enhance margins. It also updates retail prices automatically and Hannah said this major investment would allow the company to maximise product data, strengthening its negotiating power with suppliers which, in turn, means it will be able to provide stronger in-store promotions on their behalf.

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