ISD Solutions finishes new R D Johns Distribution Centre in Devon

Published on 26th May, 2023

Coldstore and composite panel specialist ISD Solutions has completed delivery of a major new distribution centre in Devon for food wholesaler R D Johns.

Since 1997, R D Johns has been based at a depot on the Milber Industrial Estate in Newton Abbot, constructed under the advice and expertise of ISD’s Darren Willcox.

Originally a family butchers, the company has recently grown 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 £200m turnover by 2026.

In anticipation of continued growth, the brand new £10.5m coldstore and freezer facility sees the company headquarters relocate to premises covering more than 3,700sqm in Kingsteignton, five miles away on the other side town.

The Milber site will now be convert 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, doors and metal fabricator QuayTherm Manufacturing, a division in Australia and Midlands-based installations specialists S Tysoe Installations. Together the companies 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.”

Mr Johns also paid tribute to the benefits of his company’s relationship with ISD Solutions over the years. “Since I first worked with Darren we have developed several buildings and discussed many other projects along the way,” he said. “Darren has been there to support me the whole time and I trust him completely. That trust extends to the whole company, which has a great ethos, excellent products and services, alongside being very honest and straightforward. They’re good people to deal with.

“The Milber facility is still performing well, which is a testament to the quality of the work ISD Solutions provides. So we’ll continue working with them. I always believe in business that you have to work with the likeminded people and build long term relationships, so that there’s loyalty between us, our suppliers and their staff.”

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