Booker is “bang on track” with the integration of Londis and Budgens, with sales and profits up and customer satisfaction improving, according to the wholesaler.
The two symbol brands have generated £28m for Booker in the year since they were purchased from Musgrave for £40m, with sales at the fascias turning around from a 20% decline 12 months ago to +15% today. Booker claims that better prices and increased scale have led to a 60% increase in fruit and veg sales at Londis, and put an average of £20,000 in annual profit back into Londis retailers’ businesses.
In addition, a 20-store trial is underway which sees Premier stores supplied through the Londis supply chain, leading to a 50% increase in fresh food sales in the first six weeks. Should the trial be concluded successfully, the service is expected to roll out to the rest of the estate from 2017.
Speaking at the release of Booker’s interim results, chief executive Charles Wilson said: “We’re in good shape. We are we are bang on where we want to be in terms of cash and costs, and Londis and Budgens have made a great contribution to the group.
“When we bought the business, Londis and Budgens were not in a good place. Now they are cash generative, and with all the synergies in place they will be profitable. And importantly, Londis and Budgens retailers are selling more and making more profit.
“We recognise that footfall in the future will come from fresh food and food to go, and we are building our fresh capability for all our symbol brands, including Family Shopper. Getting fresh to everyone is crucial.”
In the 24 weeks to 9 September 2016, Booker’s total sales were up 13% to £2.5bn, with operating profit up 9% to £81.4m.
Tobacco sales were down by 5.6%, meaning that like-for-like sales to retailers were down by 2.8%. Internet sales to Booker customers (excluding Londis and Budgens) were up 10% to £506m, with 33,000 customers every week ordering via the internet.