Complete with piped music and illuminated bays, Hyperama sounds like a trendy nightclub chain. It is, in fact, a West Midlands-based cash and carry group - one that is proud to stand out of the crowd. As general manager Robert Lowe explains: “We are always looking at ways to go forward, keeping our depots state of the art. We are constantly looking at developing in new areas.”
One of those is IT. It has invested £1m over the last two years in installing more efficient computer systems that will allow it to target customers by mail with special offers, after analysing their shopping habits. The systems it uses are a real time Anker PC system, which monitors all sales, and can give instant gross profit and turnover figures by departments, and a Baan V system which integrates with parent JK Food’s warehousing systems.
Spun out of the Chinese food importer and distributor JK Foods, Hyperama was launched as an autonomous offshoot in September 1992. It has grown phenomenally since starting out with a 100,000 sq ft depot in Nottingham and the two cash and carries now list around 25,000 SKUs. Turnover is in excess of £100m a year and it employs some 300 people.
However, margins on sales to retailers are lower than on catering, and Lowe says he plans to focus the business more on foodservice in the future. It is even considering delivering to its steady catering customers.
He says: “Catering will make strides forward as grocery retail declines. We are still trying to help our retail customers compete, educating them on range and display.”