02-02-2018_Annabel’s_Sprint (59 of 117) crop
Projects such as Annabel's have contributed to Sprint Group's turnover this year.

Worcestershire-based Sprint Group has experienced a year of consolidation, according to the distributor’s latest published accounts for the 12 months to 30 April 2018. Turnover dipped a little, from 2017’s £16.2m to £15.9m, a 2% slip, while operating profit also reduced from £1.3m to £0.9m, a fall of 24%.

However, MD Tom Bartley-Smith reported that there was good news elsewhere in the figures: “This was another strong trading year for the Sprint Group. We have won new business, in a tough market, and were particularly pleased with our work at Annabel’s in London.

“It is no secret that the sector has faced strong headwinds over the past 18 months, and this has been borne out by results posted elsewhere. Taken in this context, I’m delighted we have managed to hold our gross margin, and whilst our net position has dipped a little, this can be largely attributed to our investment for future growth – especially in our service team. The expenditure represented by our new, bespoke software package will pay dividends (and enhance profitability across the business) for many years to come.”

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Overall, the Sprint Group has focused on what it does best, according to Bartley-Smith: “We win work because our projects team is exceptional and we retain business because we are incredibly reactive: whether for spot replacements or maintenance. Our sales team has been revitalised with new recruits and we’ve recently launched our new IT/CRM system, which is set to take our service operation right to the cutting edge of the catering field.”

The distributor recently achieved ISO 14001 accreditation – setting the standard for Environmental Management Systems, reducing waste management costs and protecting the environment. “We continue to raise standards by joining CEDA and are spearheading the industry’s forward thinking with an innovative approach to our recycling and flexible working practices,” underlined Bartley-Smith.

Projects remain the engine room of the business, although Sprint has seen a significant upswing in spot replacements as “more and more customers switch on to the fact that we hold significant stock and aren’t reliant on third parties for delivery” Bartley-Smith said. “The current climate has undoubtedly encouraged customers to repair not replace, which has increased our service revenue as well as allow a more sustainable approach.”

The plan for the future essentially boils down to ‘more of the same’, as Bartley-Smith outlined: “The market has its fair share of challenges right now, yet with challenges come opportunities, and a company with our skillset will always be in a good position to make the most of those opportunities.”

Essential advice

How would Sprint Group MD Tom Bartley-Smith guide new distributors? “Understand what you’re good at and stick to it. Our business has grown because we have very clear strengths and we’ve been good at explaining how they benefit our customers.”

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Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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