Shares in Booker hit their highest point in a year today after the wholesaler posted strong first-half sales and announced a brace of strategic acquisitions.

Like-for-like sales were up 5.3% in the six months to 10 September, with non-tobacco sales up 5.1% and tobacco sales up 5.7%. Pre-tax profits for the period were up 24% to £36.9m, with total sales up 5.5% to £1.7bn.

The performance comes after Booker yesterday snapped up fine foods supplier Ritter-Courivaud for £14.5m and on-trade wholesaler Classic Drinks for £4m.

Meanwhile, Booker has appointed former Marks & Spencer head of food Guy Farrant as managing director of its UK cash & carry business.

The wholesaler also confirmed that commercial director Bryan Drew is to retire at the end of the financial year.

“Our sales growth is good and our plans to broaden the business are progressing well,” said chief executive Charles Wilson.

“We are delighted to bring Ritter and Classic into the Booker Group. Each company brings new expertise to Booker and will help the us offer an even better choice and service to caterers in the UK.”

Wilson said the appointment of Farrant would bring “enormous experience in the food industry, which will benefit all our customers”.

Read more
Booker’s biggest-ever rollback cuts price of over 500 products (9 October 2010)
Signed, sealed and delivered: Booker MD Mark Aylwin (18 September 2010)