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Booker first half profits up 9%

Booker, the food wholesaler and owner of the Londis and Budgens chains, has seen a strong increase in sales and pre-tax profits in the first half of its financial year.

GENERAL MERCHANDISE

Booker first half profits up 9%

Booker, the food wholesaler and owner of the Londis and Budgens chains, has seen a strong increase in sales and pre-tax profits in the first half of its financial year.

In the 24 weeks to 9 September, total sales grew by 13% to £2.5 billion while pre-tax profits climbed by 9% to £81 million.

However, the company said like-for-like sales to retailers decreased by 2.8% in the period which it attributed primarily to the tobacco display ban.

Premier, Bookers’ retail symbol group, continued to grow and now has 3,358 outlets compared to 3,203 in the same period in the previous year. The company said the integration of the Londis and Budgens chains was going well following the acquisition last year and that it has already generated £28 million of cash from the businesses. Sales have been turned from declining at 20% in week one to growth of 15% in week 24.

Charles Wilson, chief executive of Booker, said: "This was a good half. Our plans to focus, drive and broaden the business remain on track. We strive to improve choice, prices and service for our catering, retail and small business customers. Londis and Budgens joined the group last September and the turnaround of the businesses is going well. We look forward to helping our customers prosper in the second half."

The company said trading in the first four weeks of the second half is ahead of the same period last year although it expects the challenging consumer and market environment to persist through the coming year.

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