Local shopping boosts profits at United

United Wholesale Grocers, the family-owned cash and carry business founded in Glasgow by Mohammad Ramzan, has posted a surge in profits driven by increased demand for local shopping during the pandemic.

Accounts newly filed with Companies House show that for the year to December 2020, the company’s profit before tax rose by more than 220 per cent to £10.1 million, up from £3.1m in 2019. Turnover increased by 29% to £216m.

“The increase was due to Covid-19 driven sales increases, and improved buying negotiation and promotional activity and cost control,” directors said in their report.

United Wholesale Grocers – which split from a related family concern, the United Wholesale (Scotland) group owned by the Sarwar family, in 2001 – supplies groceries, alcohol and related products to independent convenience stores. Its associated brands include the Lifestyle Express, Shopsmart and Shop Local fascias.

READ MORE: United Wholesale Grocers back in profit after family split

The company had an average of 205 employees during the year, up from 190 in the previous 12 months.

Directors’ remuneration fell to £87,750, down from £88,250 in 2019. However, interim dividends paid to shareholders rose to £1.04m from £631,000.

The company gave no update on its more recent trading performance, which would reflect the impact of supply disruptions that have developed across the global logistics sector. However, directors acknowledged in their strategic report that such problems remain a principal risk to the business.

“Our suppliers are core to our business,” the said. “Failure to create supply capacity needed for future growth or extended disruption could significantly affect the availability of product in our depots resulting in loss of sales.

“Our trading teams maintain contact with our suppliers on a regular basis. Supplier performance is monitored on an ongoing basis and multiple sources of supply are secured wherever possible.”

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