Symbol retailers have reacted positively to Booker’s proposed acquisition of Musgrave GB, which includes the Londis and Budgens brands.

The £40m acquisition is subject to approval by the UK competition authorities, which is expected to take several weeks to complete. If successful, Booker has pledged to retain the two Musgrave retail brands as well as Premier and Family Shopper, and to make more efficient use of the existing supply chain to bring costs down.

Retailers have been informed about the plans in a series of public meetings and conference calls with senior executives, and store owners contacted by C-Store have responded very positively to the news.

Arjan Mehr, who runs three Londis stores in Berkshire, said that Londis retailers were in good spirits about the deal.

“Booker has explained its position, or at least as far as it can bearing in mind it still has to be approved, and we’ve been told that Londis is here to stay and they have every intention of keeping both Musgrave brands and developing them further. There’s no doubt that consolidation is the way forward for the industry.”

Steve Bassett, who has three Londis stores near the South Coast, agrees that the efficiency gains should benefit everyone.

“The deal should improve efficiency so we should all benefit. I can’t see a downside.

“If it brings the prices down, it doesn’t matter who gets stock on which vehicle - 90-95% of what we all sell is the same anyway. I think the independent sector should be consolidating more to work together against the multiples.”

Premier retailer Dan Cock was also upbeat. “This has the potential to take Booker up to the next level, and I think it will make a big difference to a lot of retailers. I suppose the key question will be how well they can support all those stores, but we’ll have to wait and see.

“One of the more common questions we’ve been asking Booker recently is about fresh and chilled. They’ve done great work on value and promotions recently, but fresh isn’t a strong point. Hopefully, with Musgrave’s supply chain they can put that right.”