Rapidly growing food wholesaler moves into £10.5m warehouse

A firm which specialises in coldstores and panels has built a new £10.5m warehouse for a rapidly growing food wholesaler.

ISD Solutions has completed delivery on the major new distribution centre in Devon for R D Johns.

R D Johns has been based at a depot on the Milber Industrial Estate in Newton Abbot for more than 20 years.

Originally a family butchers, the company has grown recently very rapidly – particularly during the pandemic – with turnover rising from £5m in 2019 to around £42m last year.

Andrew Johns, owner of the company, is now targeting growth to a £200m turnover by 2026.

In anticipation of continued growth, the brand new £10.5m coldstore and freezer facility has seen the company headquarters relocate to premises covering more than 3,700sqm in Kingsteignton.

The Milber site will now be converted into a meat depot, with ISD again likely to be involved in the redevelopment of the building.

ISD Solutions is part of Gloucester-based The P & M Group, which includes PLG Insulations and doors and metal fabricator QuayTherm Manufacturing.

Together the company employ more than 190 staff, with a combined turnover of around £70m.

Mr Willcox, the companies’ group sales manager, said: “We have had a productive and trusted relationship with R D Johns ever since Andrew Johns took over the company in 1997

“I actually joined the company that year and the R D Johns site in Milber was the first project I did – back then it was a significant piece of work for us, although this is a much larger scheme and a very different situation.

“Of course we’re delighted to support Andrew and be there as part of the journey of his company. Our relationship is the ideal scenario, with mutual trust between partners for ongoing projects.

“Personally and as a company, we’re looking forward to our future relationship as R D Johns continues to grow.”

The bespoke building is an eco-friendly Dutch Barn design, a specialist but increasingly popular type of coldstore constructed from a single layer of walled refrigeration panels with a roof, alongside a bespoke freezer area.

Mr Johns said that the new premises marked a necessary but significant milestone in his company’s quest to become the largest food wholesaler in the south of England.

“We’ve massively outgrown our existing premises at Newton Abbot, where we’ve been since 1997,” he said.

“When we started we were mainly butchers, but since 2000 we’ve evolved into foodservice, which is where most of our growth has stemmed from. That’s a very competitive area and it’s taken a long time to take the fight to our competition effectively, given their protectiveness over supplier relationships.

“That’s been a big challenge but we’ve met it head on and we’re now in a good place. However, our previous premises are no longer fit for purpose.

“With our other depot in Bath, this move allows us to grow, not just in terms of capacity but also allowing expansion with key operational and business development functions – marketing, procurement, distribution, sales and so on – under one roof. This new facility will be our head office and the brains of the whole operation.”