Booker has announced like-for-like sales growth of 0.7% for the fourth quarter, despite a sharp drop in tobacco sales.

In the wholesaler’s trading statement for the 12 week period ending March 24 2017, total sales rose 0.5% including a 4.5% growth in non-tobacco sales.

The group attributed a substantial 7.9% decline in tobacco sales - down 7.5% like-for-like - to the tobacco display ban and plain packaging restrictions.

For the 52 weeks to 24 March 2017, total sales were £5.3bn, up by 6.7% compared to last year, marking the group’s best ever sales year on record. Like-for-like non tobacco sales also increased by 2.8% as tobacco like-for-likes dropped 4.6%.

Steve Fox, managing director at Booker Group, retail, said: “We are pleased with our retail performance during quarter four and are making progress with our commitment to help customers ‘make more and save more.’ We are working hard to support them and are focussed on improving choice, price and service. The integration of BRP is on track and I would like to thank our customers for choosing Booker.”

On 27 January Booker announced its planned merger with Tesco and is currently going through the competition process. It said it would not be making forward looking statements for the duration of the offer period.  

Charles Wilson, Booker chief executive, said: “Overall, 2016/17 was a good year. Customer satisfaction was good and sales were the best we have ever achieved. Booker Group remains on track to Focus, Drive and Broaden the business. On 27 January we announced the planned merger with Tesco. We are excited about the benefits the enlarged Group will bring to consumers, our customers, suppliers, colleagues and shareholders. The merger is going through the competition process.  Meanwhile it is business as usual as we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our retail, catering and small business customers.”