Increased customer numbers and higher internet sales at Booker saw the food wholesaler achieve solid growth in revenue in the 52 weeks to March 23rd, helping the group to hike its dividend.
Revenue increased by 7.3% from £3.6m to £3.86m, with tobacco sales rising 7.8% and non-tobacco sales rising by 5.1%. Like-for-like sales increased by 6.1% in the period.
The firm said that the drive into the catering market is working, with like-for-like sales to caterers up by 6.1% with catering customers rising by 14,000 over the period. Sales to retailers also rose by 6.1%. Customer numbers on the whole grew by 22,000 to 481,000.
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Internet sales jumped by 21% during the period rom £526m to £635m.
Pre-tax profits during the period rose 25.6% from £71.4m to £89.7m, while the operating margin improved by 0.17 percentage points to 2.30% due to a favourable product mix and control of costs.
The total dividend was raised by 37% to 2.28p per share.
The company said that its plans to 'broaden' the business are going well, having converted 142 of its 172 business centres in the UK to the 'Extra' format (light, brighter and more modern).
"The economy is expected to remain challenging in the year ahead and the food wholesale market remains very competitive. Nevertheless, we expect to continue to make progress in this difficult environment," the company said.
"Booker has made a good start to the current financial year, even compared to the very strong performance in the first seven weeks of last year and, in spite of the fact that tobacco sales have been slow, we remain on course to meet our expectations for the year."
Shares were 4.86% higher at 76.55p by 08:34 on Thursday.
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