The £3.7b merger between the Booker Group and Tesco should improve prices and delivery times, Booker's chief executive Charles Wilson has told The Caterer.
In a joint announcement made this morning, the two parties said the combined group would "bring benefits" for consumers, independent retailers, caterers, small businesses, suppliers and colleagues, in addition to "delivering significant value" to shareholders.
Wilson emphasised this message in an open Q&A session this afternoon, where he explained that the merger "would further improve prices for consumers and further improve delivery" due to the merger of the Tesco and Booker fleets of vehicles.
He also explained that customers would have access to more banking solutions in the future with access to Tesco banking, mobile and PayQwiq services.
When asked by The Caterer if the merger would create any job losses for the combined group, Wilson, replied that he saw the merger as a procurement opportunity and that although he would "never say never on future job losses, there was no plan to reduce the workforce at this present time".
He also stressed that Dave Lewis, chief executive of Tesco had worked hard to ensure Tesco was in a good place with supplier relationships, and that philosophy would continue to be part of the combined group.
"We have always prided ourselves on our relationships with our suppliers and customers, and we will see no deterioration in these relationships," added Wilson.
Questioned about the benefits of the merger to foodservice businesses, Wilson explained that foodservice operators would have more choice, and an increased range with a fuller and fresher fruit and vegetable offer due to the combined group being able to buy whole crops to distribute across the businesses.
He stated that the running of Booker would essentially stay the same, and that he would continue to monitor Booker's performance as a member of the executive and main board of Tesco.
A presentation shared with the media showed indicative combined financials based on the 2015/16 published results for both parties with a combined EBITDA of £59.4b with a combined operating profit of £1.1b.
Wilson confirmed that the Competitions and Marketing Authority (CMA) will now work with both parties as the merger moves forward.