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AF Blakemore & Son 'not for sale' says company

By Simon Penfold | Business | Published:

AF Blakemore, the 100-year-old family food service business based in Willenhall, has squashed rumours that it was mulling the sale of its wholesale arm for around £100 million.

AF Blakemore has said the Willenhall-based business is not for sale

Blakemore is the biggest supplier to the Spar supermarket chain and turnover across the business is now around £1.35 billion a year. But reports claimed it had hired accountants KPMG to advise on a possible sale of its wholesale business, which has its head office on the Wolverhampton Science Park site.

But Blakemore has now issued a brief statement denying sale reports.

A spokesman for the company said: “AF Blakemore & Son Ltd is not for sale and our focus remains upon the company’s core purpose of building a profitable and sustainable family business for the benefit of our staff, customers, suppliers and the communities we serve."

The spokesman added: “AF. Blakemore has been a family-owned business for the past century and is committed to building a successful company for the next 100 years through the delivery of a number of strategic projects in conjunction with our consultant partners.

“Blakemore Wholesale is part of this strategy and we are looking at all options to develop the business and improve its performance.”

The Willenhall company, which started out as a Wolverhampton grocery shop in 1917, is headed by third-generation chairman Peter Blakemore.

It employs more than 8,000 people and, as well as supplying more than 1,000 Spar convenience shops through its wholesale arm, owns 300 Spar branches through its retail division.

Blakemore Wholesale operates 13 cash & carry depots across England and Wales, while Blakemore Foodservice is one of the UK's largest suppliers of catering products to schools, local authorities, public houses, restaurant chains and the leisure industry.

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Earlier this year the food retail, wholesale and distribution group revealed it had scraped an 0.2 per cent increase in profits and a 2.4 per cent increase in sales in its 2015/16 financial year.

Its most recent set of annual accounts showed annual sales of £1.31 billion with pre-tax profits up from £7.59m to £7.60m.

Chairman Peter Blakemore described the figures as a pleasing steady result, thanking all members of staff for their efforts in achieving it.

“The result has been achieved against a background of difficult trading conditions in the food retail and wholesale markets together with significant levels of price deflation,” he said.

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Cost control was cited as a major consideration during the year and Mr Blakemore pointed to the fact that the business has continued to retain and re-invest all of its post-tax profits into improving the group operations and those of its independent retail customers.

Mr Blakemore also looked ahead to the future and the company’s 2020 vision, which is focused upon generating sustainable growth and long-term prosperity.

He said: “A F Blakemore has set out a vision for 2020 to solidify its position as a multi-market national food operator with a fantastic reputation for service among trade partners and consumers.

“Collaboration is now required across the AF Blakemore Group for the business to achieve its goals. More than ever we need to use the expertise from across our divisions to benefit the whole company, capitalising on economies of scale and the sharing of best practice.”

Finally Mr Blakemore recognised the active role played by his mother, Mary, who passed away in September 2016, in relation to the growth and development of the business.

“My mother was chairman of the group from 1986 to 2014 and made an important contribution to the success of the business,” he said.

The business is based at Longacres Industrial Estate in Willenhall and recently launched a campaign to revamp its wholesale operations, starting with the relaunch of its Wolverhampton Cash & Carry.

Simon Penfold

By Simon Penfold
Business Editor - @SPenfold_star

Business Editor based at the Express & Star's head office in Wolverhampton, looking for stories big & small.

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