Musgrave Group ceo Chris Martin has revealed that tough market conditions meant that the turnaround plan for the GB business was taking longer than expected, prompting the group to accept Booker’s acquisition proposal.

Speaking to C-Store, he said: “We’ve made good progress on the turnaround and reduced the losses, but the market has become tougher, and in this challenging environment the turnaround would take longer than we first thought. Booker is absolutely committed to the independent supply chain and its proposal was a better outcome for everyone. This is a really good deal for retailers.”

Musgrave will be briefing retailers on the changes in the next few days and weeks. “When they look at the commitment of Booker to take the brands forward they will see there is a real opportunity here,” explained Martin.

He added that Musgrave remained “absolutely dedicated” to retailers in Northern Ireland, where its symbol brands Centra, Mace and SuperValu continue to perform well.

Reflecting on the history of Musgrave’s GB operation, Martin said: “The GB market has changed dramatically since Musgrave first entered, and with Tesco and Sainsbury’s moving into the convenience sector you can’t be small.

“Our GB turnover is £833m, of which non-tobacco is £500m, and it is clear that in this tougher marketplace we don’t have enough scale,” he added.