Makro MD Hannes Floto has defended his company's poor full-year results, claiming 2007 was "the start of a new journey" for the cash & carry wholesaler.

Earlier this month, The Grocer revealed Makro's pre-tax losses had widened from £3.5m to £19.4m in the year to 31 December, with turnover down 10.9% to £924m.

Without revealing specific figures, Floto said "far-reaching" investment had been spent across the business remodelling depots and focusing its offer towards customers from the hotel, restaurant and catering trade. The 33-strong chain was already seeing the benefits of this, he said.

"Every part of the business had been under the microscope and our first step was to ensure the essential needs of our customers were in place," he said. "The initial investment in 2007 focused on getting the basics right, including availability, range and pricing."

This investment had continued into 2008, he said, with the company recently reconfiguring its Manchester and Queensferry depots to introduce more space for fresh food and grocery and a non-food range for catering professionals.

"We will be continuing to monitor the success of the stores with a view to rolling out the concept," Floto said, adding that Makro had also invested heavily in recruiting staff at senior management and depot level, a strategy that would continue through to 2010.

"Our strategy has been about ensuring we have the right level of expert resource and, where possible, we have sourced the new customer-facing roles from within the hospitality industry," he said.

Makro had already seen double-digit growth in its core customer groups, Floto added.

"This is just the start of our new journey," he said. "With the essentials in place and the right people in the right positions, we now have the springboard to help us achieve our goal of being the first choice cash & carry wholesaler in the UK."