as picking centres for independents Booker warehouses are to be used as delivered wholesale picking centres for both independent retailers and caterers, as well as depots for Iceland's home shopping service. The Iceland Group, which has changed its name to the Big Food Group in a bid to distinguish itself from the supermarket chain, will trial the concepts next year. Two Booker stores will pilot a delivered wholesale service, while five will launch an ambient service for Woodward customers. The trial Iceland home shopping picking centre in Sunbury ­ with its slimmed down cash and carry offer ­ will be rolled out to 10 others by 2003/4. The chain's home shopping range will also be increased from 7,000 to 10,000 items by next summer, to include more locally sourced fresh food, while Iceland will launch a web site for the service next year. Booker also plans to embrace new technology with a trial web site allowing 50 customers to trade with the firm on line. Booker md Gerry Johnson said the changes were good news and meant customers could shop using a range of different methods. He added: "By using any excess warehouse space we can become more efficient." His comments came as the group posted a pre-tax profit for the 24 weeks to September 15 of £16.7m (before goodwill, amortisation and exceptional items), down from last year's £31.5m. Group sales in the period were £2.45bn compared with £852.3m due to the acquisition of Booker. Iceland's like-for-like sales were down 1.9% during the six months but were up 0.1% for the nine weeks to November 17, while sales at Booker rose 1% in the same period. New Iceland md Mike Coupe said his first task at the chain was to continue to drive the recovery of the business as well as tailor Iceland stores' offer to their local catchment areas ­ with a trial starting in 20 shops. He added that customer service also needed attention. {{NEWS }}