Booker posts strong year-end performance

Booker this morning highlighted improved customer satisfaction and a 22,000 rise in customer numbers as it posted end-of-year results showing a +27% rise in pre-tax profit to £90.8m for the 53 weeks ending March 30, 2012.

The wholesaler also said it was continuing to convert outlets to its ‘Extra’ format, with 142 out of 172 now trading following a makeover. Twenty more units will be converted this year.

The group posted total sales for the period of £3.9bn – an increase of +9.4%, breaking down the rises to: non tobacco +5.1%; tobacco +7.8%; foodservice +6.1% and retail +6.1%. Overall like-for-like sales for the comparable 52 weeks grew by +6.1%.

Chairman Richard Rose said despite the success, the economic outlook would remain “challenging” in the year ahead with the wholesale food market remaining competitive. “Nevertheless, we expect to continue to make progress in this difficult environment. Booker has made a good start to the current financial year, even compared to the very strong performance in the first seven weeks of last year and in spite of the fact that tobacco sales have been slow, we remain on course to meet our expectations for the year.”

And chief executive Charles Wilson said that own label continued to drive success. Euro Shopper, the entry-price brand for independent retailers, which was launched in 2007, now had retail sales of £134m, he said. Farm Fresh, launched in 2010, posted sales of £45m, while Chef’s Larder for caterers saw sales rise +15% to £183m.

“Our plan to focus, drive and broaden the business is on track,” said Wilson. Customer satisfaction improved further, we served 22,000 more customers and sales grew by over £260m. Internet sales grew by +21% to £635m. Booker Direct is trading well and we are in the process of launching Chef Direct.”

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