Makro Cash & Carry's pre-tax losses widened from £19.4m to £26.7m in the year to December 2008, while turnover fell 2.6% to £899m, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Makro said its total number of customers had fallen 12.4% on the year before. Non-food sales were down 16%, it said, although food sales rose 4.1%.

The results were in line with expectations, claimed Makro UK MD Hannes Floto.

"The most significant indication of these results is that we have achieved our goal in stopping the sales decline of previous years," he said. "We're satisfied with the progress we're making and feel we accomplished a great deal in 2008 with our ongoing turnaround programme."

Floto said food sales had grown as a result of the wholesaler's increased focus on 'ultra-fresh' food and double-digit sales in Makro's core hotel, restaurant and catering business.

The wholesaler was also benefiting from the cost-cutting aspect of its turnaround programme, which has seen the closure of three depots in May this year as well as the revamp of a number of stores.

"Transforming this business is by no means a quick win," Floto said. "We're in it for the long haul, with the full support of Metro Group. Our efforts are now really beginning to pay off with early signs that 2009 performance is looking to be as we expected."

Metro revealed this week that its Metro Cash & Carry division had stumped up special items of 53m (£47.3m) for "optimisation measures" in the UK and Germany in the nine months to September.

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