Henderson Group, the Northern Ireland Spar distributor, has announced a 9.6% rise in turnover but a slight decline in profit following a £17m investment programme.

The company reported turnover of £583.2m in 2011 and increased employee numbers by 250 to over 2,400. However, profit before taxation decreased to £13.6m after investing in new store acquisitions, refurbishments and other capital projects.

The group, which owns the Spar, Eurospar and Vivo brands representing over 400 outlets, added 27 stores to its portfolio, including five which were purchased from Heathcotes Fine Foods Limited.

Over 50 stores were refurbished to introduce new product ranges and services, which will continue this year as Henderson invests a further £12m in infrastructure and refurbishments.

Paddy Doody, sales and marketing director of Henderson Wholesale, said: “Due to the current challenging economic conditions, we are more focused than ever on continuing to provide the best customer service, value for money, operational efficiency and management of our cost base.

“We made a major investment into new sites and technologies last year and our aim is to keep the spotlight on every aspect of the business.”