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Power Players 2021: notable net nationals

Nisbets Retail crop
With many Nisbets stores forced to close during lockdown periods over the last year, will the online channel have taken up the slack?

Elsewhere in this year’s Power Players we have seen Nisbets’ kitchen design arm, Space Group, rocketing up the rankings. But the main power lies with the Bristol-headquartered firm’s online portal, which consistently records the largest revenue in the industry.

It will be interesting to see how the coronavirus impact affects the underlying finances, given that last year the company made 437 of its 2,000 worldwide employees redundant, equivalent to 22% of its workforce – though the final number was less than the 40% originally feared. We will see in the future how that restructuring reshaped its finances too. But in recent months it seems as if the catering equipment giant has gone on the recruitment trail again, which would indicate an upswing in fortunes.

However, the figures that were available at the time we were putting together this year’s Power Players didn’t take into account the coronavirus-affected period. The latest published report only covers the 12 months to 31 December 2019, with 2020’s results expected imminently. What we can tell from what we do have, is that during 2019, Nisbets generated a turnover of £414.2m, an increase of £16.1m and 4% on 2018’s £398.1m. This was the first time Nisbets broke the £400m turnover barrier, as it continues to cement its position as the UK’s leading catering equipment provider.

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However, operating profit for 2019 fell by 53% to £13.1m from the previous year’s £28.1m, with administrative costs increasing by £13.8m, as the company continued to execute its long-term strategic vision for the business through increased investment in infrastructure, rapid product development and its digital operation.

Peter Sephton, vice chairman of Nisbets, said at the time of publication: “Nisbets continues to remain the go-to supplier of products for hospitality providers worldwide, and this is due to our strong reputation in the market for supplying a wide range of quality products and excellent customer service.

“With the current uncertain market conditions, 2020 has been a challenging year for our customers. Our continued success is dependent on being best placed to fulfil the needs of hospitality providers through an agile business model and supporting our customers as they themselves continue to adapt to the new normal.”

Another dealer wowing the web channel is Crewe-headquartered Alliance Online. Its recently-published figures do cover Covid times, namely the 12 months to 30 September 2020. The distributor generated revenue of £104.2m in this period, 18% down on the previous year’s record total of £126.9m. In terms of operating profit, last year Alliance had recorded this as £7.0m, but in the 2020 annual report, 2019’s figure was revised downwards to £6.7m – the same amount as posted in 2020’s financial year.

Director, Paul Bonson, stated in the report: “The group has been significantly affected by the Covid pandemic, having seen much of the hospitality sector being curtailed or closed. Alliance is a key supplier to this sector, which in turn has impacted on turnover and profit. A strategy pivot during the second half of the financial year with emphasis on PPE and home deliveries provided the much-needed platform to maintain revenues to safeguard operations.”

We also have a relatively up to date set of figures from Cumbria’s Cater-Kwik, which returned to publishing its financial results in full after a couple of years of electing not to do so. The latest report covered the 12 months to 30 April 2020, so just entering the coronavirus period. Nevertheless, it was good news for the online dealer, which turned over £17.1m, 7% up on the 2019 financial year’s £16.0m. Operating profit also rose by 4% from £697k to £728k for 2020.

MD Matthew Mayvers wrote in the report’s commentary: “The directors are more than satisfied with the performance of the business for the year ended 30 April 2020 and report exceptional progression over all recorded metrics.”

However, to mitigate the risks of the Covid impact, Mayvers detailed: “Cater-Kwik has cut costs and taken advantage of available incentives to manage the financial impact of the pandemic. The management team, taking advice from our bankers, made rapid assessment of the availability and mechanisms for accessing all potential opportunities of government support and applications for these opportunities began immediately and included CBILS, the furlough scheme and deferred payment options.”

The next set of results from all of these online dealers will prove whether any of the measures they took improved their fortunes in 2020-21.

Tags : alliancecater-kwiknisbetsonline dealerspower players
Clare Nicholls

The author Clare Nicholls

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