Booker Group held its Annual General Meeting today (July 8) and announced a “solid” quarter of trading. CEO Charles Wilson said: “Overall Booker Group had a solid quarter. Total Group sales were up 0.2% and non tobacco like-for-likes (including Makro) were up 1.0%.”
Customer satisfaction improved and performance was in line with expectations, he added.
He continued: “Our balance sheet remains strong with a net cash position. As previously announced, we are today seeking shareholder approval to implement a capital return to shareholders of 3.50 pence per ordinary share at a cost of approximately £62m.
“Booker Group remains on course to meet expectations for the year ending 25 March 2016.
“The Group continues to make good progress. Our plans to Focus, Drive and Broaden Booker Group are on track. We continue to enhance choice, price and service for our retail, catering and small business customers.”
Steve Fox, Booker Group Retail, added: “Our retail business has focussed on helping our customers make more money. An example of this is our ‘Even Bigger POR’ campaign which has proved both hugely popular and massively successful. I am looking forward to continuing to serve our customers as we go into summer through improving choice, price and service.”
And Stuart Hyslop, Booker Group Catering, said: “We have come through our first quarter with a solid performance and our caterers have rewarded us with our best set of satisfaction results to date. By focussing on the areas that matter most to our customers over 90% of caterers are prepared to recommend us to a friend or colleague. We will continue to listen to our customers in Quarter Two and I am confident that we can continue to support them to grow their business.”
Ken Odeluga, a senior market analyst at www.cityindex.co.uk commented:
“Total group sales continue to advance faster than the supermarket sector average, rising 0.2% in Q1 vs. the same period a year ago. This is slower than Booker’s average gross sales growth trend over the last complete 52-week period reported in April (1.5%-2.3%).
“However the first retailing quarter is typically one of the slowest, and Booker’s Q1 sales rise still puts it ahead of the trend seen across the largest UK supermarkets during the same period. The structural effect from the removal of some Makro ranges during H2, leading to a more than 7% non-tobacco fall in Q4, has now washed out. Like-for-likes sales in that segment rose 1%, though it will be interesting to see if the product cull has the desired effect of steadier, sustained growth.
“Obviously this report was unlikely to contain a great deal of news, but Booker did say it remains on track to meet full-year guidance. This may give the market confidence in forecasts that gross margin can hold steady year-on-year around 13.8%, especially after earlier forecasts called the margin as low as 10.9%.”