Booker Mumbai depot offers lessons for UK

Booker’s UK business could learn some valuable lessons from its 174th depot, which has opened in Mumbai, according to managing director Charles Wilson.

He told Wholesale News: “We can learn a lot from India. We pride ourselves on our sustainable business in the UK with initiatives like the Carbon Trust, but in India nothing is wasted. There are some good products from India that would work well for our customers in the UK, and there are other areas such as how to do staff uniforms better.”

Wilson said the 35,000sq ft depot has similar orange livery to its UK counterparts, and features many familiar multinational brands, although some are in different formats or packs, but the greatest difference to the UK depots is there is far more fresh produce, pulses and rice.

Transaction levels are far lower than the UK – the minimum is about £6.50 – but free delivery is offered above a certain threshold.

He said the company would make a first evaluation of the success of the venture after about three months, but if it wins approval from customers and suppliers then there is scope for more depots in Mumbai before looking at other locations in India.

The new depot opened a week after Booker published a trading statement for the first half of its financial year, showing like-for-like sales grew by 7.7% for the 24 weeks to September 11, and debt is £4m, compared with £361m in 2005. Wilson commented: “It’s much better being able to run your business for the benefit of your customers rather than for your bankers.”

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