CJ LANG, the Dundee-based Spar retailer and wholesaler, has fallen into the red after booking an exceptional charge of £1.6 million, related to store closures and asset write-downs, in its latest accounts.

But the family-owned firm reported its first turnover rise in four years, with revenue climbing by 2.6% to £187.9m, boosted by record summer temperatures in 2018, in the year to April 30.

The grocery business, which is celebrating its centenary year, said it disposed six loss-making stores over the financial period, with lease charges resulting from the closures contributing to it reporting a net loss. Five of the stores were taken on by independent retailers and one was closed down.

While 71 staff were affected, the majority were redeployed or transferred over to the new store owners, resulting in seven redundancies.

Accounts newly-filed at Companies House show the exceptional charge, along with £480,000 of asset write-downs, dragged CJ Lang to a loss before tax of £863,000, following a profit of £490,000 the year prior. However, the company noted that, excluding the exceptional charge, its underlying operating profit increased by 56% to £764,000.

Chief executive Colin McLean, who arrived from Scotmid with a pledge to drive CJ Lang into a new era, said the results show the “journey has started… but we are very much in that back to basics phase”. He added: “The business is moving in the right direction.”

CJ Lang has an estate of 113 company-owned stores, and supplies a further 212 independent retailers which trade as Spar. Chairman Jim Hepburn said independents are increasingly seeing the value in the Spar fascia. “The number of independents we supply on a wholesale basis is up roughly 20% in the last 18 months,” he said.