Tesco’s proposed £3.7bn takeover of Booker has not distracted the wholesale giant as it delivered a 15% growth in pre-tax profits to £174m for the year to 24 March 2017.
Total revenues were up 6.7% to £5.3bn, with non-tobacco sales up 8.7% and tobacco sales 2.4%.
On a like-for-like basis sales were up 0.5% as non-tobacco like-for-like sales rose 2.8% and tobacco sales dropped 4.6%. Like-for-like sales to caterers were up 4.4% but 0.6% down to retailers.
Booker did not give forward looking guidance because of its agreed merger with Tesco but said the first seven weeks of the current financial year were ahead of last year. CEO Charles Wilson said that rivals would have been disappointed by Booker’s continued strong performance.
“When we announced the Tesco merger in January, our competitors may have hoped we would be distracted by the Tesco deal and take our eye off of the ball, but this result confirms that isn’t the case,” he said.
“Our plan to focus, drive and broaden the business remains on track. Customer satisfaction was strong and sales and profits were the best we have ever achieved.”
Booker said it was continuing to assist the UK competition authorities in their ongoing consideration of the merger and it is expected that the merger will complete in late 2017/early 2018, subject to the necessary shareholder approvals.
The wholesaler reiterated this week that the Tesco deal had been well received by its independent retail customers, and stressed that its recruitment of independents had grown significantly.
According to the latest figures from the Grocery Retail Structure (published this week by William Reed and IGD), Booker attracted an extra 533 retailers to its symbol portfolio in the year to 1 April. The Londis fascia grew by 421 stores (more than offsetting the 256 stores who abandoned the Londis fascia the previous year as Musgrave Budgens Londis unravelled), while it also added 125 Premier Express stores and 13 Family Shoppers. In contrast the number of Costcutter symbol stores fell by 417 while Landmark’s Lifestyle Express fascia shrunk by 95 stores.
“Recruitment has been strong for a long time now,” said Booker sales director Steve Fox. “A lot of that is down to the great job the team has done in integrating the Budgens and Londis business.”