Bookeris to integrate products from http://www.rittercourivaud.co.uk/" target="_blank" rel="noreferrer">Ritter Courivaud, the fine-food business it bought for £14.5m in October, into its cash and carry outlets.
In a move that will broaden its offer to include products like high-quality dessert mixes, puff pastry and chocolate from France and Italian olives, the firm is trialling lines in some stores.
Booker Direct managing director Mark Aylwin said that Booker could now offer more to catering businesses. "We're very good at the value end and the mid-range end, we've built a decent delivered business, but we still hadn't really cut into catering as much as we could do," he explained.
As well as continuing to run Ritter as a fine-foods supplier with the same management team, the wholesaler is working some products into its cash and carry stores. Aylwin said: "The most exciting thing is Brighton where we've got a shop within a shop. Customers used to go to France themselves to pick up this produce but now they can get it in their local cash and carry."
If rolled out nationwide it would dramatically extend Ritter's reach and enable Booker to improve its fine-food offer, both in its delivery and cash and carry operations.
"On the Booker Direct side we also find our national accounts are really interested. Although Ritter does fine foods, many of the products are about convenience for chefs," Aylwin said.
"The real opportunity is that Booker has 173 cash and carrys and we're no more than 30 minutes from 90% of the businesses in the UK. It's the rural places that there's a great opportunity as a lot of the wholesalers aren't going there. If we can get these ranges into more regional places we will reduce food miles for everyone."