Buying alliances provide added financial muscle

Booker has no plans to close any of its 173 depots and every single one is making a positive contribution, according to Booker boss Hans Kristian Hustad. And having such a large network would shortly become a major asset he suggested.

Within weeks Booker will have systems to service national accounts, giving larger customers the option of a single invoice instead of registering at each depot.

Hustad said: “It is a benefit to have such a large network with our new national account capability. We are the only one and it is a competitive advantage we have to utilise.”

Another advantage is buying power. Although Booker, Iceland and Woodward are now separate companies, Hustad said they would still co-operate on buying. “Where Booker is strong, such as in alcohol and tobacco, it buys for sister companies, and where Iceland is strong, such as in frozen, it takes the lead.”

Hustad also revealed that the companies had talks with buyers from another sister organisation, Baugur. “Baugur in Iceland is outside the EU and may be able to source some things cheaper,” he said.

Baugur is currently in negotiations to buy Somerfield. Hustad said Somerfield would be another party in the buying alliance if the deal was struck.

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