Farmfoods wants ‘20 to 30 new sites nationwide each year’

Farmfoods has signed deals to open 24 stores so far this year – more than it has grown by in the past decade – in a new expansion drive.

The discounter is targeting between 20 and 30 new stores a year, with a particular focus on London, where it has appointed two property acquisition managers – Matt Vale covering north and Dan Baker covering south.

The expansion drive comes with Farmfoods’ annual turnover having passed £1bn, according to a property requirements leaflet from the retailer. It has increased from £942m since 2022. 

Vale and Baker are part of a new property team appointed in January this year, also including Phil Huckbody, senior property acquisitions manager for north west England.

Farmfoods currently has 341 stores across the UK – 225 in England, 91 in Scotland and 25 Wales – fed by four regional distribution centres. The UK-wide store estate has grown by about 20 since 2014.

This week, for the first time, Farmfoods had a stand at Completely Retail Marketplace, a one-day conference in London for retailers to meet commercial landlords and discuss property deals.

The 70-year-old family-run grocer, which sells brands and own-label across frozen, chilled, ambient and fresh categories, is looking for units of between 10,000 and 20,000 sq ft, with customer parking also essential. The requirements put it up against the likes of Greggs drive-thrus in competition for space.

Smaller units of 6,000 sq ft are considered in London, where Farmfoods aims to double its footprint, according to Vale. It currently has about 10 stores across Greater London.

Vale, Baker and Huckbody were all internal appointments. Vale was previously an area manager for the retailer, Baker was its senior training and recruitment adviser and Huckbody divisional manager for the north west.

A leaflet being distributed by the retailer at the conference detailed its requirements for “20 to 30 new sites nationwide each year”. The document promised a “quick and simple decision-making process”, with all property transactions self-funded and both freehold and leasehold opportunities considered.

“We’ve done 24 so far this year – that’s signed – and we’re only in April,” said Huckbody.

The annual turnover claim in the leaflet takes Farmfoods past the £1bn threshold for inclusion among retailers bound by the Groceries Supply Code of Practice. 

It is £58m more than its turnover in 2022, which in turn was £70m more than the year before that, according to its latest full-year accounts at Companies House. Its 2022 profit after tax was £17.3m, up from £14.6m.

The leaflet also boasted of a Dun & Bradstreet financial strength rating of 5A2, meaning lower than average risk.