Profits Up At Booker Despite Dip In Like-For-Like Sales Performance

Year end results from Booker show the group’s pre-tax profits climbed 9% to £150.8m, despite weaker sales performance.

For the 52 weeks ended 25 March, the wholesaler’s overall group revenue increased by 5% to £5.0bn, boosted by the inclusion of the Budgens and Londis chains it acquired last year. However, within the Booker business non-tobacco like-for-like sales fell by 0.3%, while like-for-like tobacco sales decreased by 5.2%.

Like-for-like sales to caterers edged up 0.6%, although sales to retailers fell 2.2% amid the competitive trading conditions and the effects of the ban on small stores displaying tobacco products.

The group said its symbol chains continued to grow with Premier increasing its members to 3,213 stores (3,082 last year). Non-tobacco sales to these customers grew by 10%.

Booker also continued to develop its local discount format Family Shopper, which it said was “doing well.” It now has 42 stores with response to the new format said to have been “encouraging”.

Meanwhile, the Budgens and Londis businesses acquired in September last year were said have fitted into the group with ease and have embraced Booker’s approach to cash, customer satisfaction and health and safety.

Booker said that trading in the first seven weeks of it new financial year was ahead of last year. However, it added: “We anticipate that the challenging consumer and market environment will persist through the coming year and the UK’s food market remains very competitive.

“Whilst there is increasing price competition in the UK grocery and discount sectors, we will continue to deliver our plans to offer our customers even better choice, prices and service supported by the continued delivery of our efficiency programmes. We are on track to deliver an outcome for the new financial year in line with our plans and to make progress in this challenging environment.”

NAM Implications:
  • Given Asda’s issues and the inevitable knock-on impact on rest-of-trade, it is likely that ‘challenging market conditions’ will continue beyond the year end
  • As a good example of the narrow margin wholesale model, Booker are doing relatively well, but need supplier help with volume growth…
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