Heron Foods sees strong sales as Cooltrader boosts stores growth

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Heron Foods saw a sharp increase in sales in 2013, with underlying growth boosted by its acquisition of a rival firm.

It is the latest discount retailer to announce strong results, as shoppers continue to look for value away from the Big Four supermarkets.

The East Yorkshire-based chain, which has 240 stores in the North and Midlands and employs 3,000 people, saw turnover climb 28 per cent to £249.7m in 2013.

Much of the growth was driven by the addition of 54 Cooltrader stores to its portfolio, after buying the frozen food stores in 2012.

Underlying growth at Heron Foods remained strong, with like-for-like sales climbing 4.6 per cent.

However, its profit before tax more than halved from £4.8m to £2.3m due to continued operations investment.

David Heuck, finance director at Heron Foods, said the results reflected the “successful integration” of the Cooltrader stores and a focus on branding, marketing and new-look formats in 100 of its Heron branded shops.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) remained “broadly flat” as a result of the company’s operational development, he said.

Mr Heuck said: “Last year the company invested heavily into stores, whilst also adopting a new IT infrastructure and completely new epos systems. We also opened 13 new Heron Foods stores.

“We are in the middle of a major programme of change at Heron Foods and as we build towards the future, we will continue to acquire new stores in line with our investment plan.”

The company expects to open in excess of 20 stores in 2014, its results statement said.