CJ Lang boosts profits

Colin MacLean stands infront of a Spar delivery truck.

Chief says annual results reflect smart investment

SCOTTISH Spar wholesaler and convenience retailer CJ Lang & Son Ltd has reported a big rise in annual profits.

Chief exec Colin McLean said the pre-tax profits increase of 10.7% to £3.4 million showed its investment strategy was paying off.

The Dundee-based firm also reported that the margin was up 0.3% to 23.3%, while turnover was down just 0.1% to £212.3m in its financial statement for the year ending 30 April.

New chief finance officer Guy Smith explained: “We’ve grown our ‘food to go’ (FTG) offering, which improves our margins. This has been very successful, especially on holiday routes where coach-loads of travellers stop to buy FTG in big quantities.”

The results have been delivered against the backdrop of an extremely challenging economic climate that continues to drive changes in shopping behaviour.

McLean said the current cost-of-living crisis meant store visits were less frequent, although basket spend has gone up.

And company-owned stores have grown in profitability, aided with the acquisition of Dalbeattie, the first such addition to the portfolio in more than five years.

Expanding and investing in key areas

The team at CJ Lang has also expanded the independent estate across the country, with David Sands, one of Scotland’s most successful convenience retailers, recently joining Spar Scotland.

McLean said: “We know there are tough times ahead for all and our primary focus is to offer a value proposition to help support our customers and staff through the ongoing uncertainty.

“Being solely Scottish-focused has enabled us to adapt quickly and react flexibly to the changing retail landscape, and to continue to provide a first-class service to our independent retail customers, consumers and communities at a time when they have needed us most.”

The family-owned company has delivered its fourth year of growth in profitability, continuing to outperform the Scottish retail market.

Investments have been made in key resources, both within the senior team to bring on board further skills and experience, and within company-owned stores, with significant spending in Crosshouse, Gatehouse of Fleet, Spean Bridge and Balmacara in the last year.
Plans include investing in the system to make use of the excellent data CJ Lang has on its customers.

McLean added: “We are now attracting the best of Scottish retailers to join Spar Scotland thanks to our competitive wholesale package, but we are also focusing on quality rather than quantity, ensuring that retailers with our name above the door adhere to our standards.

“With our vision of developing a solid business not just for today but for tomorrow too, we have grown independent sales, and are excited to welcome on board more retailers in the future and further expand our relationships.

“Our stores cover all sizes of communities across Scotland – our customers are our neighbours. I would like to thank them all, along with our suppliers and our colleagues, for their continued support.”