Booker expands delivered business as group profits show double-digit growth

Booker this week posted like-for-like sales of 2.4% and pre-tax profit up 16% for the half year to September 12, 2014 as its success story continues to play out based on its Focus, Drive and Broaden strategy and the integration of the Makro business.

Chief executive Charles Wilson, reporting total sales up 1.9% to £2.3bn, said Booker remained a friend to brands with more than 90 of the group’s suppliers enjoying double-digit growth with the business.

Group MD Guy Farrant added that own label sales, particularly across lines for caterers were also seeing strong increases with entry-level range Chef’s Essentials now boasting sales for the half year of £55m, up 33% and Chef’s Larder at £124m, up 26%.

Booker is also working hard at driving down prices compared to its competitors. Just this week it announced it was slashing the prices of 23 key tobacco lines, move it says will help to support retailers as next year’s display ban approaches. Booker claims the cuts will add £3m to retailer margins.

And in its results announcement this week, the wholesaler pointed out that back in 2005 its catering and retail prices were respectively 3.5% and 3% higher relative to the rest of the market, whereas it was now on track to be respectively 2.4% and 1.9% lower than rivals.

Wilson also said the four Makro outlets integrated into the Booker portfolio were trading well, confirming that Enfield and Park Royal were the next two branches to get the Booker treatment, with a further two to be announced. However, he also stressed that elements of the make-overs were already evident in other 22 branches. “We’re very pleased with them, they are getting better,” he said, adding that in the second half those outlets would also incorporate a delivered element to their offer.

To support the expansion of delivered the Wilson said major investment had gone into expanding the delivered fleet, taking its case capacity from 100m to 179m.

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