Spar wholesaler James Hall & Company and one of its biggest retail customers, Lawrence Hunt & Company, have reported strong uplifts in profits.

Results published this week for the wholesaler showed a surge in pre-tax profit of 14.7% to £11.4m for the year to March 2008. The company's turnover increased 2.5% to £341.7m.

During the period it increased its capital expenditure by nearly £10m to £18.4m, purchasing a new site for an HQ and distribution centre in Preston, which it aims to move into within the next two years.

It has entered into a provisional agreement to sell the existing head office and distribution centre in Preston in excess of the book value.

Lawrence Hunt, which owns 28 Spar stores in the Preston area, reported an increase in pre-tax profit of 23.4% to £599,000. Turnover increased 2.72% to £32.7m in the year to May 2008.

The sale of some flats had added £91,000 to its balance sheet, said MD Kevin Hunt. "We sold the properties just at the right time when the property market was at its peak," he said, adding that there was like-for-like sales growth of 4.5% during the period and the core business was doing well.

Since the period covered by the accounts, the retailer had trialled a food-to-go offer in one of its stores. It had proved a success and would be rolled out to six more stores, said Hunt.

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