Booker sets its sights on £6bn sales post-Makro deal

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Booker has laid out plans to transform itself into a £6bn business if its acquisition of Makro receives clearance from the competition authorities.

The wholesaler, which acquired loss-making Makro in July, is expecting a decision on the merger from the Office of Fair Trading within the next few weeks.

Releasing its half-year results this morning, Booker said that subject to OFT clearance, it planned to open trade-only Booker concessions in around half of Makro’s 30 depots. It would also fit larger delivery centres into all the depots.

“This should give the Booker Group capacity to grow to being a £6bn turnover business,” CEO Charles Wilson said. Booker’s turnover is currently £3.9bn.

Wilson also said he anticipated £26m of synergies could be secured by 2013/14. “This should help restore Makro to profitability and will help improve choice price and service for our customers,” he added.

Booker would help Makro improve its meat, soft drinks and premium catering ranges, while Makro would help Booker improve its fish, frozen and non-food, Wilson said.

“Makro has some great people, customers, products and locations,” he added. “Our intention is that Booker will stay a trade only business and Makro will continue to serve the trade and small companies.”

Booker reported a 13.3% increase in pre-tax profits to £51m in the 24 weeks to 14 September, on sales up 3.3% to £1.9bn.

Like-for-like sales rose 3.1%, with non-tobacco like-for-likes up 3.8% and tobacco like-for-likes up 1.8%. Sales to caterers rose 4.7% during the period, while sales to retailers rose 2.2%.

The wholesaler also reported a 10.7% hike in internet sales to £332m. Fruit and veg sales rose 19%, meat sales were up 10% and Euro Shopper sales up 17%.

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