Booker recorded strong growth in the third quarter, despite a drag from falling tobacco sales.

The wholesaler, which is closer to completing a £3.7bn merger with Tesco after receiving CMA clearance in December, said non-tobacco sales rose by 5.9% in the 16 weeks to 29 December 2017, with non-tobacco like-for-likes up 6.2%.

Group tobacco sales fell by 2.6%, with tobacco like-for-likes down 2.1%. As a result, total sales were up 3.4% and like-for-likes were up 3.8%.

Both the catering and retail sides of Booker Group made good progress, it said in an update this week. Premier continued to grow and Budgens and Londis were “performing well”.

“Booker Group had another good quarter with like-for-like non-tobacco sales up 6.2%. We continue to ‘focus, drive and broaden’ our business”, said CEO Charles Wilson.