Tesco has announced that 30 top-selling Booker lines have been introduced into more than 50 Tesco stores, following a positive initial response to the group’s Chef Central trial.

Booker opened its first Chef Central store for the catering trade within one of Tesco’s largest Extra stores in Bar Hill, Cambridge, earlier this year, with a second trial concept opening in Beckton last week.

Following the positive response to the initiative, Booker products will now be sold to shoppers in Tesco stores, but Booker-supplied independent retailers have yet to be given access to Tesco’s own label range.

During a phone briefing with analysts and investors this morning (June 15), Tesco chief executive Dave Lewis said: “The timings for introducing Tesco lines into Booker stores was always going to be longer than taking Booker into Tesco stores.”

Lewis stated that Tesco is continuing to work on ’synergies’ within the business and confirmation on Tesco own label lines being introduced to Booker-supplied c-stores would come at a later date.

Tesco launched its ‘Joining Forces’ programme with Booker earlier this year, following the group’s merger in March. Since then, 3,000 Booker products have been introduced into Tesco’s Magor and Middleton distribution centres, in preparation for the busy summer trading period.

Lewis added: ”Under Booker, customers in the South West used to order day one and items would be delivered day three. Now we’ve been able to order day one and deliver day two, so there has been a significant service improvement.”  

In its first quartely results since the merger, Tesco announced a 2.1% rise in like-for-like sales for its UK business, with Booker recording sales growth of 14.3% (including tobacco) during the same 13 week period ending May 26.

During the quarter, Tesco also announced that its non-food division, Tesco Direct, will cease trading on July 9 2018, as the group looks to strengthen its food business.

Commenting on the results, Catherine Shuttleworth, ceo of shopper and retail marketing agency Savvy, said: “Positive growth continues at Tesco this morning with a strong like for like performance of 2.1%  showing that UK shoppers have bought into their offer and the business continues to fire on all cylinders.”