Jerry Marwood AFB

A.F. Blakemore has reported an 18% sales increase for the four weeks ending 2 January 2022.

Group chairman Peter Blakemore said this increase came despite challenges in the industry.

“Much of the sector had forecast a challenging operating period with predictions of supply chain failures impacting availability and the ongoing Covid pandemic affecting staffing levels,” he said. “ Without doubt, Covid continues to impede colleague availability however by investing and putting importance on our people capability, it has enabled us to continue to operate as normal despite Covid related absenteeism, which were similar to peak pandemic levels.”

AF Blakemore new purpose built distribution centre in Bedford

He went on to attribute the growth to efficient planning that was aided by the new, purpose-built distribution centre in Bedford.

“Christmas stock management required tactical stock builds, centralisation of supply and backhaul for our suppliers; but inbound supply is still sitting six-percentage points below outbound. With our highest recorded case volume on New Year’s Eve and a forecasted 20% growth in sales by the end of the financial year, we need suppliers to invest in mitigating these issues to improve availability.”

Management changes

The group also provided detail on senior changes that will take place over the next 18 months, with group managing directors Geoff Hallam and Jerry Marwood retiring; at the end of the financial year 2022 and May 2023 respectively.

Jerry Marwood will take over Group CEO responsibilities following Hallam’s retirement, working alongside the management team on the daily management of the business, as well as focussing on the acceleration and delivery of the five-year business plan. Marwood will also implement his succession plan to ensure a smooth transition in 2023.

Blakemore added: “Geoff’s contribution to the AFB business has been substantial and I would like to thank him for his dedication and commitment during his time with us and wish him every happiness in his retirement. I am delighted that Jerry will be appointed to the CEO role continuing to manage the planned transition and steering the company’s strategic direction. The coming months will see further senior appointments as we structure our business in line with our long-term strategy.”