Charles Wilson has claimed that the reverse takeover by Blueheath of Booker will make it the only one-stop shop for national delivery and top-up of fresh, frozen and ambient foods, alcohol and non-food in the UK.

The deal will result in Booker returning to being a public company after two years in private hands, with a market value of more than £350m. The new company, which subject to shareholder approval is set to float on the AIM on 4 June, will be called The Booker Group. It will have a combined turn­over of £3.17bn, closing the gap with P&H, which last year had sales of £3.53bn.

In a exclusive interview with The Grocer, Booker chief executive Charles Wilson and Blueheath CEO Mark Aylwin said the deal was first mooted in January.

"As we looked at ways of broadening our business it was clear that delivered sales and new technology were the weak links in our armour," said Wilson. "It quickly became clear that getting together would make sense. This deal gives us the ability to become the biggest and best supplier to independent retailers and caterers in the UK."

Blueheath runs a delivered business to independents and national accounts through its membership of buying group Key Lekkerland. It owns depots in Wrexham and Thurrock.Booker, which has 172 C&Cs in the UK, also has distribution centres in Haydock, Hatfield and Livingston. It said these DCs could be used for retail delivery.

Although the Blueheath name is set to disappear Aylwin said the deal put the company exactly were he wanted it to be. "We have always wanted to be a national delivered wholesaler," he said. "If you had a blank map of the country you would struggle to place these depots any better to give full coverage. Plus our technology is better suited to a bigger company and the scale we can have now."

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