Major players in growth despite tough climate

Three leading wholesalers have all reported sales growth despite tough trading conditions.

Publishing its figures for the 16 weeks to January 4, Booker said total sales, including Blueheath, were up 1.3% on the same period last year.

Like-for-like non-tobacco sales were up 2.4%, but Booker said like-for-like tobacco sales declined by 7.9% due to the ban on smoking in public places.

Charles Wilson, chief executive said: “Excluding tobacco, there was a solid performance across the board, including BWS, confectionery, and our new price-marked fresh fruit and vegetables.”

He said the fall in tobacco sales was in line with Booker’s predictions.

Today’s Group reported that overall trading was up 4.2% in the fourth quarter ending December 31. Grocery was the strongest performer, up 11.4%, and impulse achieved growth of 7.4%. Licensed reflected the particularly tough climate at Christmas with sales up 1.6%.

Nick Barker, Today’s Group trading director, said: “Our fourth quarter figures are particularly robust and show our continued growth since the third quarter figures were released.

Landmark Wholesale said its top 80 supplier sales were up 4% for the whole of 2007, compared with the previous year. The success of moves to counter duty fraud were demonstrated by beer sales up 13.2%, and confectionery outperformed the market with 10% growth. Landmark also achieved 1% growth in cigarette sales, well ahead of the overall market.

Managing director Martin Williams said: “We are currently operating in a challenging environment, but significantly, we have outperformed the market across a number of categories, notably confectionery and cigarettes, and this gives us confidence.”

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