Booker has made a great recovery since 2005, taking over Blueheath and winning a major contract

The fact that Booker was the clear winner of this year's Gold award for Wholesaler of the Year is testament to the impact CEO Charles Wilson has had since joining in October 2005.

After years of turmoil, the cash & carry giant is once again a force to be reckoned with and it was this turnaround that so impressed the judges.

Booker was the unanimous choice of the judging panel, one of whom praised its "operational and financial recovery", which has now placed it in a great position to achieve future growth. Another judge called it an "excellent turnaround with significant evidence of improved performance".

In the half year to September 2005 sales were down 6% and EBITDA was falling at 41%. Debts were £401m and the company had a pension liability of £135m. Some suppliers expressed concerns that the company would collapse.

What a difference now. Last month Booker reported a 27% increase in pre-tax profit to £36.2m in the year to March on sales up 2.3% to £3.1m. It has slashed its debt to £47.2m.

Getting to grips with Blueheath, the business it took over in May 2007, has undoubtedly helped. Since then it has been ramping up both its delivered and internet sales business.

The company revamped its website last June and its online sales are now up at £2.5m a week compared with £0.1m last year. Last December Booker also won a major contract to supply the 175-strong CTN chain Rippleglen, which it took from rival P&H. This, Wilson said, was also on the back of the Blueheath deal.The move was ahead of schedule, he added, as the company had not expected to start winning such business until the spring.