Booker’s tobacco sales are down 3.7% according to the group’s interim results, which cover the 24 weeks ending 11 September.

Total sales for the period were down 1% at £2.2bn, although like for like sales excluding tobacco were up 0.6%. Profit was also up, by 10% to £60.8m after tax.

Chief executive Charles Wilson said there were a number of reasons for declining sales in tobacco, including the effect of the display ban, the increasing move into vaping, the poor summer weather and the impact of the illicit trade.

Commenting on the results, he said: “This was a solid performance, and despite the challenges in the UK grocery market we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our customers.”

Wilson revealed that the recently-acquired Musgrave GB business, including the Londis and Budgens brands, would take at least 12 months to break even, with losses in the year to March 2016 expected to be in the order of £9m. However, efficiency gains, better use of shared infrastructure and growth in the business overall will push the operation into profit by March 2017, he added.