Booker Group’s fourth quarter trading update was heavily featured in all the papers as the imminent £3.7bn Tesco takeover generates plenty of interest in the wholesaler.

Sales growth slowed at Booker ahead of the £3.7bn Tesco merger, although still stronger than last year, as tobacco revenues were hit by the display ban and packaging restrictions, The Financial Times writes. The paper quotes a note by HSBC analyst Andrew Porteous. Who believes synergies could reach more than double the £200m that the companies have promised.

The Guardian and The Telegraph focused on the effects of the tobacco display ban on the Budgens and Londis owner. Booker said tobacco sales dropped by 7.5% on a like-for-like basis in the three months to 24 March, while non-tobacco sales were up by 4.7%.

The Mail headline thunders that Booker revealed it “enjoyed its best-ever sales performance last year”, ahead of a proposed £3.7bn takeover by Tesco. The group said total sales for the year to 24 March increased by 6.7% to £5.3bn, the paper writes. The Times also focuses on the attraction of Booker after sales, profits and market share all improved last year, boosting Britain’s largest wholesaler before its potential £3.7bn tie-up with Tesco, the paper writes.

Sky News continues to reveal more on the situation at Palmer and Harvey (P&H). Imperial Brands and Japan Tobacco International are nearing a deal to shore up the finances of P&H, but sources told Sky that any agreement was unlikely to involve the cigarette makers taking shares in the company – an option that had been explored within the last fortnight.

The Telegraph writes that cigarette sales cooled at Imperial Brands after the tobacco giant issued a first-half trading update. Guidance for the maker of Gauloises and Winston cigarettes remained on track for the full year but management admitted first-half sales had been “driven primarily by a deterioration in industry volumes following strong industry volumes last year”. The Times says Brexit has proved a positive for Imperial Brands as the tobacco group revealed that a fall in volumes in the first half was more than offset by a weak pound.

Shares in agriculture and engineering group Carr’s lost almost a third of their value on Thursday after it warned its profits would come in “significantly below expectations” this year (The Financial Times). The group revealed that contract delays and a weak cattle market in the US hurt profits for the year (The Telegraph).

The Telegraph hails the return of the booze cruise as a consequence of Brexit. The British Chamber of Shipping, which represents cross-Channel ferry operators, said duty free for wine and cigarettes will be “automatically” introduced on cross-channel ferries if Britain leaves the customs union.

John Lewis’ new boss Paula Nickolds has set out her stall for the future of the retailer against backdrop of ‘profound change’ (The Telegraph). The Guardian notes that the new boss warns of further job cuts and price rises.

McDonald’s will start using fresh beef patties instead of frozen ones in its Quarter Pounders across the US by the middle of next year, marking a change to one of its biggest-selling products at a time when it is trying to lure back customers, according to The Financial Times.