Booker posts ‘strong’ Q2 trading update despite falling tobacco sales

Booker Group has posted strong results for the summer with +5.8% year-on-year growth for non-tobacco sales.

In its Q2 trading update released this morning (September 14), taking in the 12 weeks to September 8, Booker said its Premier fascia was growing and both Londis and Budgens were performing well.

However, tobacco sales continued to fall with a like-for-like fall of –9.4%. Group sales overall were up 1.1%.

Charles Wilson, chief executive, said: “Booker Group continues to make good progress with like-for-like non tobacco sales up 6.0%. Our plans to focus, drive and broaden Booker Group are on track.

“The competition review of the planned merger with Tesco plc is progressing. We continue to help our retail, catering and small business customers prosper through improving our choice, prices and service.”

Steve Fox, MD, Booker Group – Retail, said: “We remain focussed on helping our customers to improve choice, price and service and our retail business continues to progress well. We had a good summer period and I’m looking forward to continuing to help our customers make more and save more in the run up to Christmas.”

And Stuart Hyslop, MD for catering and small business, added: “We are pleased with the progress our catering business has made during the summer. We are focussing on listening to our customers and delivering what really matter them to help them prosper, as we enter the important Christmas season.”

Fiona Cincotta, a senior market analyst at www.cityindex.co.uk commented: “[Booker] has had a slight wobble, with sales growth slowing considerably since its last update in July.

“Previous stronger growth, however, was helped by factors outside management’s control, such as favorable weather conditions and the timing of Easter.

“The tobacco business has again been a major drag, as the government continues its regulatory crackdown on cigarettes. But 5.8% growth in non-tobacco sales — while slower than the blistering growth reported in July — will be welcome news for Tesco amid claims from at least one investor that its takeover bid is too generous.”

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