Financial growth for CJ Lang as Spar wholesaler reveals growth plans


CJ Lang has announced its annual results, boasting growth in pre-tax profits and net turnover as it prioritises bringing in local customers.

The wholesaler for Spar Scotland has been investing in new to-go options, including Barista Bar coffee.

“The challenge will be working with independents getting the right product offer getting the right range,” said chief executive Colin McLean. He added the company are working closely with independents who have already adopted Barista Bar to see “how we can take it on together”, and some stores adopting the brand have seen their coffee sales double.

Another key acquisition announced last week was Glasgow convenience chain Scotfresh. McLean told Better Retailing the company had a lot to learn from Scotfresh as they took over stores, particularly its emphasis on fresh, local produce.

Read more: CJ Lang & Son acquires ScotFresh Stores and secures Barista Bar distribution deal

“They’ve got a really good understanding of their communities,” McLean said. “I think it demonstrates the ambition we’ve got for this business. So we’ve increased profits, some seven fold over the last five years. The business has now got some momentum into it and really trying to drive the business forward. We think certainly Spar Scotland, with the association with the women’s football as well. Some modernizing the business with some of the brands and the prime. Mr. Beast coming to market, actually, we’re bringing younger customer into the business as well.”

For the year ending 30 April, CJ Lang’s pre-tax profits increased 10.3% to £3.7mil, and net turnover increased 4.2% to £221.3m. It is the company’s “fifth year of growth in underlying profitability since the development of their five-pillar, customer facing business strategy”.

Jim Hepburn, non-executive chairman for CJ Lang, highlighted the focus the company has been placing on attracting customers in the cost of living crisis, saying: “We’re the only symbol group, really the only major retailer in Scotland on TV, telling people what the deals are they can communicate directly with our consumers.”

The results added the firm was “continuing to outperform the Scottish Retail market” despite a year of “continual change, challenging economic climate and record food inflation.”

McLean said being “genuinely Scottish” had allowed the company to adapt quickly and flexibly to changes in the retail landscape. He added that the company had also made invested £2m in their forecasting and demand planning systems to improve availability.

“We are far better placed than most convenience store groups to support our customers all year round,” he said.

Hepburn added: “We’ve invested time with our suppliers, ensuring that we understand what it is they’re telling us so that we can help that supply chain currently.”


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