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Booker sales rise 9.4% to £3.9b

24 May 2012 by
Booker sales rise 9.4% to £3.9b

Booker Group has today announced that total sales are up 9.4% to £3.9b for the 53 weeks ended 30 March 2012.

According to preliminary results released this morning, Booker has increased operating profit to £89.6m, up 17% on last year. Net cash for the business stands at £63.4m, up from £27.1m in 2011.

Chief executive Charles Wilson said: "It's great to have such a strong cash position and I have no doubt we will look at further acquisitions in the future.

"Our plan to focus, drive and broaden Booker is back on track. Customer satisfaction improved again, helping us service 22,000 more customers and grow sales by more than £260m."

Sales to caterers, although up at +6.1%, saw a slight drop from 2011 growth of +6.3%.

Stuart Hyslop, sales director - catering, said: "Our caterers have had a difficult 12 months and have worked extra hard to win share of the consumer spend.

"Throughout this time we have worked alongside them to ensure that our package reflects how difficult it has been for them to predict demand and they have rewarded us with a larger share of their basket".

One driver has been an increase of choice and Chef's Larder, an own-brand label for caterers, which has sales up 15% on the previous year. The company has also widened its net by adding Ritter-Courivaud and Classic Drinks to the portfolio.

Classic, an on-trade wholesaler supplying pubs and licensed customers, acquired in 2010, will be rolled out to a further five sites in the year ahead.

Ritter-Courivaud, another major purchase for the company in 2010, combined with the Booker logistics expertise, has enabled the creation of Chef Direct, a distribution network aimed at major food service providers.

Revolution and Angus Steakhouse are two recent account wins and the company will continue to target long-term, low-risk, profitable food service companies such as these.

The aim is to secure 30 accounts at this level.

Mark Aylwin, managing director of Booker Direct, confirmed that the first deliveries had been dispatched this week. He said: "We have an industry-beating offer with Chef Direct and have had a very positive response from the industry."

Online results for the company continue to grow, with an increase from 12,000 active customers in 2008 to 170,000 in 2012, generating sales of £635m.

"Online sales will continue to grow," Wilson said, "alongside the booker smartphone application and these platforms will be key focuses for us going forward."

By Lisa Jenkins

E-mail your comments to Lisa Jenkins here.

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