Farrant, who was at M&S for 30 years, was head of food from 2005 to 2007. He moved to the role of director of retail and outlets when Steven Esom joined the retailer from Waitrose, but left M&S in 2008.
For the past two years he has been working for Provenance, a company that has been advising Booker on improving its fruit and veg offer. Booker CEO Charles Wilson, who worked with Farrant at M&S, said his former colleague was "one of the best food people in the UK" and had run "a great business at M&S".
Farrant, who takes up his new role in January, will concentrate on building Booker's core business while Wilson focuses on broadening it beyond cash and carry.
Booker moved two steps forward in its expansion plans this week with the acquisitions of speciality fine food supplier Ritter-Courivaud for £14.5m and on-trade wholesaler Classic Drinks for £4m. "We had a meeting with our restaurant and catering customers and they told us the best supplier was Ritter-Courivaud," Wilson said. "We were so impressed by the business. We're going to keep it as a separate unit and also see opportunities for Ritter products in certain branches." Classic Drinks would allow Booker to deliver kegs to pub customers, he added.
This week, Booker reported a 24.2% increase in pre-tax profits to £36.9m on sales up 5.5% to £1.7bn for the six months to 10 September.