FRESH produce and food to go will be top priorities for wholesale and cash & carry giant Booker.
Speaking after the group’s half-year financial results were announced, Charles Wilson, chief executive of Booker, said work was already underway to build fresh capability for Londis, Budgens, Premier and Family Shopper.
“The footfall of the future is going to come from fresh and food to go,” he said.
“We’re building a supply chain that can do a really good job with fresh that helps that footfall over the next five to 10 years.”
Total sales for the 24 weeks to 9 September were £2.5bn, an increase of 13% with like-for-like non-tobacco sales up 0.1% and tobacco sales down 5.6%, which the company blamed on the tobacco display ban. Half-year profit before tax was £81m, up 9%.
Booker said its Londis and Budgens symbol groups, which it acquired from Musgrave last year in a £40m deal, have generated £28m in cash.
Steve Fox, managing director – retail, said: “What we’ve said from day one of joining forces is we want to grow all of our brands by improving fresh, adding stronger own brands and a better supply chain.
“Existing Londis and Budgens are telling us they’re selling more and they’re making more profit. And they’re doing that with the prices we’ve reduced. Some of our customers were selling selling chicken for £5.29. It’s now £4. So the consumer’s getting a better offer and we’re selling that cheaper to the retailer.”
Wilson said that overall it had been a good six-month period and the company is in good shape.
“On the retail side of the business it’s been a very good half,” he said. “We’ve seen good customer satisfaction from the independents and I think it’s really good to see Premier and Family Shopper growing nicely. The trial we’ve been doing supplying Premiers from the Londis supply chain with fresh has been working nicely, so we’ll be looking at how we can roll that out over the next few years.”