CJ Lang looks to the future with new energy

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CJ Lang is approaching the future with increased pace and energy under a new management team to turn the perennial “sleeping giant” into a more dynamic and successful operator in the Scottish convenience market.

The Scottish Spar wholesaler and retailer’s latest financial results for the year to April 30, 2018, show turnover down 1.3% at £183.1m with EBITDA profit of £4.2m. However, a strong summer performance has seen like-for-like sales up by over 3% since then across both independent and company-owned stores, and the company is confident of further growth as new initiatives and restructured operations come on stream.

Recently appointed ceo Colin McLean said: “The 2017-18 financial year results were mostly in line with expectations during a tough period for retail and wholesale as we continued to meet the changing consumer needs within convenience retailing. This continues to require the taking of difficult decisions that will protect the business in future.

“Buoyed by the good summer, we have had a strong start to our new financial year. We have new stores planned to open over the next 12 months and we are supporting our independent retailers and company-owned stores with market-leading deals.”

A new pricing initiative, featuring keener retail prices on key lines such as milk, bread, and big alcohol brands went live earlier this year in a trial group of 17 company-owned stores and has already delivered footfall and profit growth compared to equivalent company stores. The initiative is backed by leaflet drops, local advertising, exterior window graphics and in-store pos.

The company is also trialling 24-hour lead times for deliveries, and has started work on rebuilding its food-to-go offer, with more consistent delivery of bakery, coffee and hot food. It also has a “strong pipeline” of independent retailers interested in joining Spar, McLean added.

CJ Lang will be celebrating its centenary next year, and will make the event with a number of special events including a trade show in St Andrews with a special focus on food to go, and sponsorship through Spar of the European Athletics Championships in Glasgow.

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