Booker’s Premier symbol group is gaining momentum, backed by a £10m investment and a new fascia and imagery says John Wood

After several years of sluggish growth, Booker’s Premier symbol group appears to have finally taken off with a surge of more than 300 new members in the last year.

One of the key attractions for independent retailers, according to head of Premier Steve Fox, is the group’s “makeover not takeover approach”.

“People want to run their own business, but they also want advice, and that is exactly what we give them,” he says.

Another attraction for cost-conscious independents is there is no fee for joining and Booker provides a fascia and imagery.

Booker has been looking into the needs of its retailers and is investing £10m over the next three years in a bid to take membership from 750 stores last year to 2000 by April 2005. One of the most obvious
changes is the new look fascia and imagery which has just been launched.

Booker plans to raise the brand profile, providing uniforms, baskets and carrier bags that carry the imagery, while ensuring the logo is on all communications.

Fox is also hoping that funding may be found to enable existing Premier retailers to upgrade to the new imagery.

The group is also looking to provide a better service for members with larger stores by introducing Premier Plus for stores in excess of 1,500 sq ft.

Fox emphasises that stores will still trade under the standard Premier fascia, but will be able to offer a much wider range of fresh food and non food.

Deliveries to Premier stores are also going to be upgraded, by moving the operation from cash and carries to dedicated hubs.

Fox says the roll-out of this will follow a full evaluation of a trial which was carried out at Wolverhampton.

Fox says drop shipment deliveries are also now available to all members after early teething problems had been ironed out.