Booker has reported higher interim profits despite sales taking a hit from the tobacco display ban.
During the 24 weeks to 9 September, the wholesaler’s pre-tax profits rose 9% to £81m on total sales up 13% £2.5bn. Like-for-like non-tobacco sales edged up 0.1%, although tobacco sales slid 5.6% as a result of the ban on small stores displaying such products. Internet sales grew a robust 10% to £506m.
The group said that the integration of Londis and Budgens was “going well”, with it already having generated £28m of cash from the two chains. It added that sales have been turned from declining at 20% in week 1 to growing 15% in week 24.
Premier, its retail symbol group, continued to grow and now has 3,358 outlets (2015: 3,203 outlets), whilst it new discount format – Family Shopper – has grown to 52 outlets.
Booker said that trading in the first four weeks of its second half was ahead of the same period last year. “We anticipate that the challenging consumer and market environment will persist through the coming year and the UK’s food market remains very competitive,” Booker said, adding that it remains on course to meet its expectations for the full year.