Bullish Booker’s sales up 13% despite weak tobacco market

Booker, the UK’s biggest wholesaler, has reported first half sales of £2.5bn (six months to September 9, 2016), up 13%. Profits after tax were also up, by 12% to £67.8m.

The company said that it was seeing benefits from the impact of its £40m acquisition of the Budgens and Londis symbol groups last year.

Like-for-like sales in its core cash and carry business are still being impacted by a weak tobacco category, where sales were down by 5.6% on the year, though non-tobacco sales were firmer on +0.1%; like-for-like sales to retail customers were down 2.8%.

But the wholesaler’s catering and delivered businesses were doing well, up 1.8%. Chief executive Charles Wilson said that alongside its traditional independent catering customers Booker is now also achieving significant growth with an expanding portfolio of multi-site customers – Carluccio’s and Prezzo were among its recent contract wins.

Including Budgens and Londis – alongside the Premier and Happy Shopper fascias – Booker now has a total symbol group network of 5,463 stores, which are generating sales of more than £1.7bn. The company said that it intended to increase this to £2.65bn.

Internet sales were also up, by 10% to £506m.

For an in-depth look at the Booker results, make sure your read the October issue of Wholesale News – out next week!

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