Booker has acquired Musgrave Retail Partners GB – the owner of symbol groups Budgens and Londis – for £40m.
The proposed deal, which is subject to approval from the Competition and Markets Authority, will cement Booker’s position as the UK’s largest symbol group. It already has more than 3,000 stores operating under its Premier, Premier Express and Family Shopper fascia.
Londis currently has 1,630 convenience stores and sales of £504m in the year to December 2014, while Budgens has 167 convenience stores and supermarkets and sales of £329m.
Both groups are currently going through a complete reorganisation following a period of falling sales. Musgrave GB had sales of £833m last year and made an operating loss before exceptional items of £7.4m.
If the deal was approved, Booker would have 4,907 symbol stores, and a 9.4% share of the convenience market.
Booker said that following completion of the deal, it wanted to develop the Budgens and Londis brands alongside Premier and Family Shopper. The brands would be retained, but retailers would benefit from “a better local and national supply chain”.
Booker and Musgrave were also developing a strategic partnership agreement “to facilitate opportunities and the sharing of competencies between the two groups”.
“Booker, Londis and Budgens are joining forces to help independent retailers prosper throughout Great Britain,” added Booker CEO Charles Wilson.
“This transaction should strengthen Londis, Budgens, Premier, Family Shopper and other Booker retailers, through improving choice, prices and service to consumers. Overall it will help independent retailers prosper.”
Musgrave Group CEO Chris Martin added: “The grocery market in Great Britain is experiencing fundamental and permanent structural change, with intense competition and a deflationary environment. Given these challenging market dynamics, we carefully evaluated all of the possible options for our GB business. Having received a proposal from Booker, we concluded that a sale to Booker is the right thing for the group and would be the most advantageous outcome for our retailers, colleagues and suppliers in Great Britain. The agreement also includes the development of a strategic partnership with Booker.
”Musgrave GB has been a loss-making business and while the decision to sell Budgens and Londisis difficult, it will allow the group to drive forward with its growth strategy which is about developing our market-leading retail, convenience and cash and carry brands in the Republic of Ireland, Northern Ireland and Spain,” he added.
”We see the opportunity for growth in the improving Irish economy.To support our growth agenda, Musgrave is developing a strategic partnership with Booker. We will explore opportunities to collaborate on store formats, digital innovation, buying opportunities, sharing of best practice and to achieve cost savings and efficiencies for the business.”
News of the deal came as Booker announced its results for the year to 27 March. Pre-tax profit rose 14% to £138.8m on sales up 1.5% to £4.8bn. Booker like-for-like sales, excluding Makro, rose 2.3%.