Some of the changes that have helped to turn around Booker’s business were outlined by Ron Hickey, director of catering development.
He said that in April-September 2005 sales to caterers were declining by 6%, but in the period from October 2006 to March 2007 sales were growing by 4%.
Hickey said pricing had played an important role in encouraging caterers to buy more. He said: “Traditionally foodservice pricing has involved a lot of smoke and mirrors, ‘my discount is bigger than your discount’, but we have been completely transparent in the cash and carry business and the price we advertise is the price everybody pays.”
Booker has also been introducing long-term reductions through its roll-back programme and had now cut the prices of nearly 1,000 products. He said these had resulted in sizeable uplifts and he thanked suppliers for their support.
Another way Booker was helping caterers with pricing was offering fixed season-long prices so that once they had printed their menu they did not have to worry about rising prices.
He said: “Once you’ve printed that menu as a caterer you haven’t got the option. You can’t put your prices up because your supplier has had a price increase and they want to force it on you. Seasonal pricing on fresh meat, fruit and vegetables is really important. We want to give that to our customers so they have the confidence to shop with us, not just for today or tomorrow but for the whole season.”