No summer trading blues for Booker

Booker traded strongly through the summer to post interim pre-tax profits up 13.3% to £51m for the 24 weeks to September 14, 2012.

The group, which has yet to integrate the Makro business it bought earlier this year in a £140m deal, pending competition clearance from the Office of Fair Trading, reported total sales of £1.9bn for the period – a rise of 3.3%. Like-for-like sales were up 3.1% with non-tobacco showing the strongest growth of 3.8% and tobacco posting a sales increase of 1.8%.

The catering arm of the business proved yet again that the hospitality sector continues to thrive despite the recession with sales increases of 4.7%. Sales to retailers were more modest – up 2.2%

During the period Booker converted a further three depots to the Extra format bringing the total to 145 It also continued to trade strongly on the web, with online sales  up 10.7% to £332m.

Booker, chief executive said: “Our plan to focus, drive and broaden Booker Group is on track.  We improved choice, price and service for our customers, which increased sales by 3.3%.  Booker Direct, Ritter Courivaud and Classic are performing well and Chef Direct has got off to a great start and the increase in the interim dividend is evidence of the Board’s confidence in the outlook for Booker.  Subject to competition clearance Booker and Makro will be able to improve choice, prices and service for caterers, retailers and small businesses in the UK.  Once integrated, Makro will prove a good addition to the Booker Group.”

He added that subject to obtaining competition clearance, Booker expected Makro to reduce group operating profit in 2012/2013 by up to £10m and increase operating profit in 2013/2014 by around £10m.

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