Charles Wilson and Dave Lewis

Source: Tesco/Booker

Booker CEO Charles Wilson (right) has outlined three phases to be rolled out this year

Booker insisted this week that its customers are about to start seeing the benefit of its merger with Tesco, in the form of lower prices and better quality products.

Earlier this year the wholesaler faced complaints from retailers that the promised benefits were coming too slowly.

Speaking at The Grocer’s annual Business Lunch this week, Booker CEO Charles Wilson outlined three phases to be rolled out this year. The first phase, which kicked off at the end of February, involves offering lower prices to its retail and catering customers. Phase two, launching in spring, will revolve around ramping up the quality of produce by switching to Tesco suppliers and specifications, with the last phase in autumn looking to roll out the benefits of Tesco services.

Wilson said the phase one price cuts could deliver an annual retailer benefit of £6,250.

These include cuts to the price of four-pack price-marked beers. The wholesale price for a case of four packs of Foster’s has been cut from £17.49 to £15.69, Carling is down from £18.09 to £16.95, Stella Artois from £22.49 to £18.85 and Carlsberg down from £18.59 to £15.26.

The wholesaler is also making price reductions on its leading meat lines, tobacco and health & beauty ranges, which Wilson said was an area “where unfortunately we have just not been at the races”.

By working with Tesco, Booker was now able to offer retailers better margin on products such as Sure roll-on deodorant, Lynx shower gel, Impulse body spray and Simple cleansing wipes.

The range improvements on the back of the Tesco tie-up include new vegan and vegetarian Discover the Choice ready meals, launched on 6 March, and better quality fresh flowers as a result of switching to the current Tesco supplier. By moving the Tesco/One Stop specifications on the top 20 fresh produce lines, retailers could expect to make up to £2,750 of extra yearly profit, said Wilson.

Booker retail MD Steve Fox added: “We have been listening to our customers and are pleased to be able to deliver their biggest priorities. This is phase one of our plan and by unlocking these benefits, I am confident our symbol group retailers will be able to increase their cash profit. These categories are some of the most frequently purchased from a convenience store and are really important in driving both footfall and sales. By improving both quality and margin, customers will make more money.”