11 (10) Booths


Sales:£282.0m (+1%) 

Pre-tax profits:£3.9m (+5%)

Stores:29 (0%)

This six-generation family business, owned by the Booth family since 1847 and with a 5% stake held by staff, didn’t open any new stores last year, with sales and profits nudging gently upwards. However, new CEO Chris Dee says it plans to open four new stores this year, which will grow the store estate to 33. All of them are to be based in the North.


12 (11) Heron Foods

Heron Foods

Sales:£250m (+28%)

Pre-tax profits:£2.3m (-52%)

Stores: 240 (0%)

Snapping up 53 Cooltrader sites from rival Iceland sales at this frozen discounter, owned by management following an MBO from founders Malcolm and Sheila Heuck in 2003, are soaring, but pre-tax profits were dented. However, the Cooltrader stores it has refitted and rebranded are showing “significant increases in turnover and profitability”.


13 (13) Henderson Retail


Sales:£157.4m (+5%)

Pre-tax profits:£6m (+61%)

Stores:78 (0%)

Northern Ireland’s largest independent fuel site operator has 78 outlets, and is the retail arm of Spar wholesaler Henderson Group. An investment of £23.1m in 2013 allowed the family business to purchase the freehold of seven new stores, and additional warehouse space. Expect further acquisitions.


14 (12) Park Garage Group

Sales:£150m (-18%)

Pre-tax profits:£534k (+39%)

Stores:53 (-40%)

As most forecourt operators expand, Park Garage Group, second-generation owned by brothers Balraj and Sunil Tandon, has been offloading sites, franchising out stores on a new commission operator model. Its estate dropped from 89 to 53 sites and staff numbers fell 61% - the biggest drop on the Top 50.


15 (14) Berry Bros & Rudd

Berry Bros & Rud

Sales:£149.7m (+8%)

Pre-tax profits:-£5.6m (N/A)

Stores:2 (0%)

An ongoing five-year strategic development at the recherché wine and spirit merchant - owned by members of the Berry and Rudd families since it was founded in 1698 and the oldest independent in our list - took its toll, though pre-tax losses of £5.6m were actually an improvement on the £7m it lost in 2013. It’s been a difficult year for the core wine business with challenges aplenty for the Bordeaux en primeur range, which forced Berry Bros to diversify beyond the region. It also continues to pursue substantial sums it says it is owed by a former distributor in Asia. However, this negative impact is only short term, with its programme of investment both “on track” and “meeting expectations”. In 2013/14 this included the redevelopment of its original St James’s Street store, and its foray into a third Asian city (Singapore). It also invested in an additional state-of-the-art warehouse.


16 (17) Brobot


Sales:£128m (+12%)

Pre-tax profits:£1.4m (+262%)

Stores:23 (0%)

The Leicestershire-based forecourt operator, owned by directors Eddie Bright and Brigit Smith, was founded in 1978. It trades under the Londis fascia and has 23 sites across the Midlands and East Yorkshire. Despite the mildest winter in decades, a focus on higher margin fuel sales boosted sales and profits.


17 (15) CJ Lang

CJ Lang

Sales:£119.1m (+2%)

Pre-tax profits:N/A (N/A)

Stores:117 (3%)

CJ Lang opened its first store in 1987. The Spar wholesaler - owned by the Scott-Adie family - now has 117 outlets and is aiming to add more stores, following a “high level of investment” in capital projects and store acquisitions throughout 2014, says MD Scott Malcolm.


18 (19) HKS Retail

HKS Retail

Sales:£89.8m (+3%)

Pre-tax profits:£362k (+172%)

Stores:27 (0%)

Forecourt operator HKS has traded under the Costcutter and Mace symbol fascias since its inception in 1984, but in September launched its first Spar store in Ibstock, Leicestershire. Owners Hasmukh, Kamlesh and Sailesh Thakrar insist it will remain a Costcutter member, but hope to open more Spars.


19 (20) Rippleglen

Sales:£73m (-8%)

Pre-tax profits:£258k (+25%)

Stores:99 (-15%)

Closing non-core stores and underperforming high street shops is set to continue in 2015, leaving it with 99 outlets but allowing this CTN operator - acquired by MD Mike Colley and four other directors in a 2011 MBO, to invest in existing shops and IT projects, including a new EPoS system.


20 (18) Alfred Jones

Sales:£67.6m (-31%)

Pre-tax profits:-£468k (N/A)

Stores:23 (-66%)

Alfred Jones has disposed of several of its underperforming Spar stores, including 33 to One Stop. However, the family - who started the chain in 1888 - claim stores that form part of its “future strategy” are showing a marked improvement in trading, with sales increasing 3.7% on a like-for-like basis.

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