Positive half for Booker symbol groups as tobacco slumps

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Just a couple of weeks away from the CMA issuing its provisional decision on the Tesco/Booker merger, interim results for the last six months (to September 8) show Booker sales profit before tax increase by 9% to £88m.

Despite overall figures being knocked down by the dwindling tobacco sector, Booker recorded 2.5% sales growth and overall sales of £2.6bn.

Catering figures were extremely positive with a like-for-like sales rise of 8.1%. Retail sales growth was nowhere near that figure (0.6%), however, Booker CEO Charles Wilson said that all four symbol groups had had a positive half.

Budgens recorded smaller growth (non-tobacco 3%) than the other symbols under the Booker banner, but Budgens Brand Director Mike Baker reported that three new Budgens are being introduced every week.

Premier’s footfall drive, through deals on milk, sugar and bread, was seeing strong results, and overall Premier non-tobacco sales were +11%. It is the 15th consecutive year of growth for the Premier group, which has welcomed 149 new customers over the last six months.

Family Shopper (+32%) and Londis (+21.4%) were leading the way in regards to symbol group sales change.

Driving footfall at a time when tobacco was in decline was an ongoing priority for Booker said Wilson.

In regards to ongoing discussions with retailers about the Tesco/Booker merger, Wilson said they have had recent trade shows in Sandown and Doncaster where they could interact with 3,000 to 4,000 retailers.