Booker-affiliated retailers are expecting some quick wins from the wholesaler’s merger with Tesco, which came into effect this week.
Tesco and Booker shareholders voted in favour of the deal last Thursday, more than a year after the merger was first proposed. Independent retailers acknowledge that the long-term ramifications of the deal could take months, but are holding out for some short-term gains.
C-Store understands that retailers have been promised price reductions on a number of lines within two or three months.
Arjan Mehr, a Londis retailer in Bracknell, Berkshire, said: “We’re hopeful of getting some quick wins in terms of service level and pricing, especially on two to three dozen key lines including in fruit & veg and bread and milk. If that doesn’t happen people will get cynical.
“Then we can look at how the brand can progress. We expect long-term improvements in retail and non-retail, such as in banking.”
Paul Gardner, a Budgens retailer in Islington, London, agreed that retailers would become cynical without reaping some early rewards. “There’s got to be short-term wins, but we’ve got to look at the bigger picture, too - I think it’ll take a couple of years to feel the full benefits.
“But within the next three months I’m expecting a package of quick wins relating to banking and payment charges. I accept American Express, which costs us quite a lot.”
Mayur Patel, owner of Premier Saxon Fields Store in Andover, Hampshire, said: “I have a good feeling that things will get better. It’ll take a while for changes to come through the system. I would hope that within a year we’ll see some changes, but we’ve already waited a year for the shareholders’ vote so I’m not impatient.
“However, I expect to get better banking charges within the year. And perhaps we’ll be able to operate Tesco mobile phone outlets? I’ll put the idea forward.”
Meanwhile, Booker chief executive Charles Wilson becomes Tesco UK retail and wholesale ceo, while former chairman Stewart Gilliland has been appointed to the Tesco board as a non-executive director.
“I’m hoping for consolidation of buying terms. I want my offer to improve, but I don’t expect big changes for six to 18 months. I’m less optimistic on banking, but I’d love to have Tesco Clubcard.”
Steve Bassett, six Londis stores, Dorset & Hampshire
“I hope to get things like Easter Eggs at reasonable prices - products that supermarkets use as loss leaders. I’d also expect to have free banking charges in the short term.”
Adam Moody, Londis Embleton, Northumberland