Appleby Westward, the South West Spar distributor, has reported a like-for-like sales rise of 4.39% for the 2018 financial year and recruited 27 new Spar stores.

The group is aiming to recruit an additional 24 new stores in the comping year, managing director Mike Boardman told delegates at a tradeshow in Bournemouth. Ten new stores have already been identified.

Appleby’s wholesale sales reached almost £135m over the financial year, with summer volumes at their highest for two years.

“Our wholesale and retail businesses are delivering industry-leading like-for-like figures,” he said.

“Our service levels are the envy of many, especially during the high-pressure summer months, and with continued investment into our retailers, company-owned stores and warehouse facilities, Spar is now the only credible independent symbol group.”

Appleby supplies nearly 300 company-owned and independent Spar stores.