A member of the West Midlands’ £1 billion club – the companies with ten-figure turnovers in the region – has revealed a 25 per cent surge in sales on the back of a takeover.
Cash and carry business AF Blakemore and Sons, which is in its third generation of family ownership, broke the billion-pound barrier for the first time last year, after being boosted by the takeover of rival Capper & Co.
Accounts filed at Companies House by the Willenhall-based firm this week show revenue rose by 25.9 per cent to £1.15 billion in the year to April 30, and pre-tax profits increased to £9.3 million despite a £1.8 million bill for integrating the two businesses. AF Blakemore, which is run by the Blakemore family include Peter, whose £60 million fortune has earned him a place on the Birmingham Post Rich List in recent years, took over fellow Spar wholesaler Capper & Co for £37.2 million in 2011.
In her chairman’s statement, Gwendoline Blakemore said the firm saw its gross profit performance improve from 14 per cent to 15.2 per cent after profiting from the integration of the two businesses.
She said: “The Capper & Co acquisition has been a resounding success and whilst it has been a busy year of transition involving considerable management time, we have achieved significant synergies as a result of the integration.”
She added: “Economic conditions have continued to be difficult in the current financial year, not helped by poor weather over our important summer trading period.
“The group is confident of maintaining a similar level of sales through investing in gross profit.”
AF Blakemore, which began life in 1917 as a counter service grocery store, has consistently grown sales in the past decade, in spite of tough conditions, and the latest sales figure represents an increase of more than 100 per cent on eight years ago.
The company, which is 70 per cent owned by Peter Blakemore, the grandson of founder Arthur Blakemore, now employs about 7,900 people UK-wide.
However, while the latest accounts show the number of people employed rose from 5,800 to 7,900 in the last year, directors’ remuration actually fell from £1.2 million to £1 million.
The highest paid director earned £181,000 and there were no dividends paid.
The accounts also show a fall in the company’s net debt, from £58.8 million at the end of the 2011 financial year to £51.1 million this April.
As well as its Willenhall headquarters and distribution facility, it has invested £5 million in a new headquarters for its wholesale division on Wolverhampton Science Park and has eight wholesale depots across the UK.
The company also has a fresh foods division, a shopfitting division, and Blakemore Print, which used to be confined to handling the company’s internal print requirements but now has external customers.