Booker’s successful integration of the Makro estate will enable it to scale up its delivery services and improve the support available to retailers stocking fresh and chilled produce, according to chief executive Charles Wilson.
Announcing pre-tax profits of £118.7m (up 25%) on total sales of £4.7bn (up 17.3%) for the year to 28 March 2014, Wilson said that the addition of the Makro warehouses to the network will give it the capacity to reach £6bn worth of sales by 2017-18.
According to the results statement, the Makro acquisition has delivered £26m worth of synergies, and made an £11m profit contribution this year as unprofitable lines were delisted. Five joint Booker/Makro business centres will be developed in 2014-15, to join the three already open.
“After we grew the business from £3bn turnover to £4bn we needed more capacity, and now with Makro we have the capacity to handle £6bn of sales,” Wilson explained. “We can step up deliveries to Premier and Family Shopper, and the extra space will enable us to improve our fresh offer.”
Like-for-like sales to retailers were down by 0.5% for the year due to falling tobacco revenues, the company reported, with sales up by 4.4% on a like-for-like basis when tobacco sales are taken out. Sales to retailers in the Premier symbol group were up 12%, which is the eleventh consecutive year of double-digit growth, according to retail sales director Steve Fox. During the year the Premier estate grew to 2,982 stores, with a further six trading under the Family Shopper discount format.
“Chilled is now the strongest growing category in Premier, up 17% against growth of 12% in the group as a whole,” he added.” It’s very important we keep working with retailers to drive sales here.”
Booker’s delivered business is now worth £1.27bn, up from £1.15bn last year. Orders via the internet were up 10% to £777m, with 334,000 registered customers.