Cash and carry bosses have rounded on Booker for blaming its own lacklustre performance on a declining market. In a letter to The Grocer this week (see p20) Landmark chairman Steve Parfett said the statement in Iceland Group's results that the "cash and carry market has continued to decline," was "disingenuous and unhelpful". "FWD statistics show a healthy and growing sector," said Parfett. "Booker is still the biggest player in the industry and as such has a responsibility not to talk down the sector unnecessarily." Batleys MD Len McCormick said: "Booker is having a torrid time and using this excuse to make its results look sound. "We've had a cracking start to the year. Bootlegging has obviously been a problem but cigarettes and alcohol are picking up again. The market is certainly not in decline. Anything but." Bestway trading director Younus Sheikh said he was also "inclined to disagree" with Booker's negative assessment of the market. "The cash & carry market still presents big opportunities. We wouldn't be expanding if we didn't believe that was the case." Bestway is opening its 26th depot in Plymouth in September and is still "actively seeking" opportunities for further expansion. He declined to speculate on Booker's motivations for the comments. Today's Group wholesale development director Chris Dales said he did not believe the overall C&C market was in decline, adding: "Within the Today's Group, both cash & carry and delivered wholesale members are trading successfully in a difficult market. "We are seeing growth in delivered wholesale and in specialist cash & carry markets, where toiletries, alcohol, foodservice and non foods are all growth areas." Booker's like for like sales for the nine months to March 31 showed a small improvement from -2.9% to -0.1%. Booker said the comments about the cash and carry sector were backed up by recent IGD figures. {{NEWS }}