Booker has acquired Makro Cash & Carrry – the UK operations of Metro Group.
The deal – a cash and shares purchase valued at around £140m – will see Metro take a 9.99% stake in Booker and the two companies form what they called a “strategic partnership agreement”.
There has long been speculation that Makro could quit the UK or be bought out by a rival, having recorded a loss for several years. Accounts released today show Makro haemorrhaged £63.2m in 2011 - a dramatic worsening of the £20m losses it suffered the previous year.
“Through working together, Booker and Makro UK will improve choice, prices and service for retailers, caterers and SMEs throughout the UK,” said Booker chief executive Charles Wilson.
“Together we will offer a wide range of foods and non-foods to our professional customers, via the internet, delivery and cash & carry. The board is confident that this collaboration will enable us to continue to generate value for shareholders.”
Metro chairman Olaf Koch added: “In Booker, we have found the right buyer for our challenging UK business, which has shown an unsatisfying performance.
“Booker is very well positioned in the UK market, with a great brand perception and vast experience in managing product ranges and in customer services. We are convinced this new set-up meets all requirements for future success in the UK, while allowing Metro to further concentrate on countries within our strategic focus.”