Booker drives growth and customer numbers

Booker Group has announced another strong trading performance with total sales in the 52 weeks to March 28, 2014, including Makro, at £4.7bn – up by 17.3% compared to the same period last year. 

Booker like-for-like total sales (excluding Makro) over the 52 weeks were up by 2.1%, with non-tobacco sales rising by 4.4%, while tobacco like-for-like sales fell by 1.7%. Like-for-like foodservice sales, including tobacco, rose by 7.1% and while those to retailers fell by 0.5%.

Customer numbers, excluding Makro, increased by 5% to 529,000 and customer satisfaction improved. Internet sales increased by 10% to £777m, according to the Group, which also reported it held approximately £150m net cash at the end of the year, compared to £77m a year ago. 

Trading for the 12 weeks to March 28, 2014 painted a similar picture with sales up 16.3% on the same period last year with like-for-like sales over the 12 weeks rising by 1.9%, pulled down slightly by tobacco sales showing a near level performance of just 0.7% up, while all other sales saw a 3.4% rise.

Booker also reported that the Makro turnaround was progressing well with improved customer satisfaction scores. While sales excluding tobacco in Makro were down 8.0% in the 12 weeks as a result of the decision to stop selling some consumer ranges such as televisions, the Group reported that cash and profits at Makro were in line with expectations.

Charles Wilson, Booker chief executive, said: “This was a good quarter with non tobacco like-for-likes up 3.4%.  Our plans for bringing Booker and Makro together are on track.  In this last quarter we achieved our best ever customer satisfaction scores in Booker and Makro as we continue to improve the choice, prices and service to catering, retailing and small business customers in the UK.”

Steve Fox, sales director – retail added:  “Our retail business has made solid progress during FY2014.  We re-launched Premier which has delivered some fantastic results for our existing retailers and also attracted new members.  We also launched Family Shopper, which is our new discount brand for independent retailers.  This blends the best of the hard and soft discounters to help our customers offer great value everyday.  We have also continued with our very successful and popular 40% POR promotion.  This really boosts our customers’ profits.  The outlook remains challenging, however we remain focussed on increasing choice, lowering prices and improving our service.”

Stuart Hyslop, sales director – catering Booker’s commitment to “Locked Down Prices” continued to build customer loyalty as well as helping to attract new customers. Meanwhile, Mark Aylwin, MD of Booker Direct reported that Chef Direct had seen what he called “exceptional growth” during the quarter.

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