Wilson warns on debt levels in the wholesale sector

Some wholesalers are over-extended and will go bust in the next 12-18 months, Charles Wilson, managing director of Booker has warned.

Speaking after Booker published its annual results showing net debt at March 27 was down 47% to pound;24.9m, he said: “Four year ago the total debt for the wholesale sector was around pound;800m, and nearly half of that was Booker. Now it is pound;2.5bn and Booker accounts for 1%.”

Booker was well placed to buy any businesses that came up for sale because they were in difficulties, but would only do so if they were right for its customer base, he added.

Booker continued its recovery with pre-tax profits up 30% to pound;47.2m on sales up 3.3% to pound;3.2bn, and Wilson said employees would benefit from the uplift in the business through one of the largest employee share schemes in the UK.

More than 1,300 take part in its save as you earn scheme, 600 are involved in its Performance Share Plan, and all employees benefit from a trust scheme which holds shares and pays them a bonus from the company’s dividend.

Wilson said: “All the colleagues have put in the hard work to get us where we are today and it is critical that they should share in the benefit from that growth.”

The company also announced that its plans to transfer listing of its shares from AIM (Alternative Investment Market) to the main London Stock Exchange market are on track, and are scheduled to take place at the beginning of July.

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