Booker recovery sparks sales growth

The recovery of the UK’s largest cash and carry business hit a new landmark last week when it returned to sales growth.

Speaking at the FWD Annual Conference, Booker chief executive Charles Wilson said: “In the fourth quarter this year sales are back in growth, and this is after walking away from pound;70m of unprofitable business.”

Wilson was reviewing progress in the three-year recovery plan he put in place when he took charge of the company in October 2005.

At that point sales in the half year to September 30 were down 5.6% on the same period the previous year, and since then Booker had steadily reduced the decline.

He also revealed that “historically Booker had been playing games” to boost sales figures with unprofitable Features > Business, but he had put an end to the practice.

One of the factors responsible for the sales increase, he said, was moves to improve availability in depot. Three hundred of the most important lines had been identified as ones which must be available and the place of each one was marked with a green ticket in depot. Wilson said availability of the must stock lines was very significantly improved and that overall availability in depot was up 2.6%.

Wilson also announced that Booker would be continuing the roll-out of its new concept depots, with refits of 24 scheduled for the next year.

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