booths store shop front

Booths has taken the first steps to extend its offer throughout the UK - by providing a national delivery ­service for the first time this Christmas.

Chairman Edwin Booth told The Grocer it would open up its “Christmas Book” to deliver nationwide and was currently in negotiations with distributors.

Booth also planned to explore further e-commerce opportunities, and did not rule out a store expansion programme in the south.

“There are people outside our trading area who have said they wish they could have a Booths, so for the first time this Christmas we are prepared to deliver all our goods in the Christmas catalogue to people throughout the UK. We’ve just had our first order from the Scottish islands,” said Booth.

“We will be able to make this offer for the first time and learn from that and it is our intention to develop our ­e-commerce in the future, though not along the lines everyone has.”

The upmarket northern supermarket chain has 29 outlets in Yorkshire, Cumbria, Lancashire and Cheshire, and plans to open five more outlets in and around its heartland by 2016.

Asked if he would open supermarkets in the south of the country, Booth said: “I’m not saying we wouldn’t but if we did it would be very tactical.”

He stressed that if Booths expanded its trading area, it would do so on a “quality” footing.

The chain is also continuing to develop its own label and added more than 200 new lines last year. “We understand we undertrade on own label and we are going to do it on our terms,” he said.

This week, Booths reported pre-tax profits up 6.9% to £3.95m for the year to 29 March on sales up just over 1% to £282m. This was driven by a strong Christmas last year, with festive sales up 6.1%.