Booker decides to increase number of Extra makeovers

More than 100 Booker depots could eventually be converted to the new Extra format, according to chief executive Charles Wilson.

Speaking to ProWholesaler, two years after he took charge of Booker, he said: “It had originally been thought that 70-80 depots would benefit from the change, but the response had been so good that we are now looking at more than 100.”

By the end of March, 33 depots will have been converted to the new format – which includes an orange and white colour scheme, much brighter lighting, and greater stocks of catering and non food products Another 30 are due for conversion next year.

Wilson said the changes cost an average of pound;150,000 per depot and the payback period was less than 12 months. He said the format was still evolving as lessons were learned from each new conversion, but it was still thought that some of Booker’s 172 depots would not respond to the level of non food in the new format or did not have sufficient space.

The integration of Blueheath was also going well, said Wilson, and importantly the IT systems used by Booker and Blueheath were able to communicate with each other. The first phase of integration had been completed without losing any major accounts and Blueheath could now pursue new business with a range that was more competitively priced and had new additions such as the Euroshopper range.

He said Booker was well on the way to offering a complete package of options for independent retailers and caterers, with opportunities to buy in cash and carries, top-up shopping using multi-temperature deliveries from the depots, or a full delivered service through Blueheath.

Development of Booker’s internet capabilities was also a priority said Wilson. It has already doubled turnover through its relaunched website, but he said there was a lot more that could be done such as tailoring offers to an individual customer’s business needs and sending information to them via their web-enabled mobile phones.

Looking back on his two years in charge, Wilson said Booker had made substantial progress on his three-year plan. Debt had been reduced massively, sales and profits were now in growth, and the business was now into the “broaden” phase of his plan.

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