Wilson slammed news reports that predict doom and gloom for the trade. "These are dangerous headlines that won't help anyone," he said. "The independent sector should stop saying that it is at a disadvantage and start concentrating on the things that its retailers are good at, such as their ability to engage with the local community and react to its demands. Independent retailers are fantastic entrepreneurs and those I speak to are doing a wonderful job."
Wilson acknowledged that the current economic climate was making life difficult for the trade, but said that shoppers would return to their local stores once it had stabilised.
"The economy will get choppy, but we have planned for that and when the market gets really tough, retailers will want to come to Booker.
"If we do a good job and retailers do a good job, the independent trade can really delight the consumer," he said.
As shoppers tightened their belts, sales of Booker's economy Euro Shopper range have reached £400,000 a week, Wilson added. "With 30% POR on virtually every product, we are helping retailers to make huge incremental profits, which explains why more than 20,000 of them are buying into it each week," he said.
Booker reported a 27% increase in pre-tax profit to £36.2m for the year to March 28 on sales up 2.3% at £3.1bn.