Booker shrugs off wash-out summer

The UK's biggest cash and carry chain Booker Group said like-for-like (LFL) sales rose 3.1 per cent for the 24 weeks ended September 14th 2012 as more shoppers chose to shop locally to avoid taking the car.

The UK's biggest cash and carry chain Booker Group said like-for-like (LFL) sales rose 3.1 per cent for the 24 weeks ended September 14th 2012 as more shoppers chose to shop locally to avoid taking the car.

Booker, which supplies corner shops, pubs and restaurants, said group turnover in the second half to date (excluding Makro) is ahead of the same period last year despite concern that the wetter than usual summer would put off consumers.

LFL non-tobacco sales rose 3.8% during the period while the equivalent tobacco sales increased 1.8%. Total sales climbed 3.3% to £1.9bn.

Operating profit, before a £3m exceptional charge related to its Makro acquisition, rose 12.4% to £51.6m. Profit before tax, after the exceptional charge, advanced 13.3% to £51m.

Booker's figures do not include the results of Makro as the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) completes its review.

The company said working capital levels and costs are in line with plan and overall, it continues to trade in line with management expectations.

Underlining its confidence in future trading, the interim dividend has been increased 15.2% to 0.38p.

Chief Executive Charles Wilson said: "Our plan to Focus, Drive and Broaden Booker Group is on track. Booker Direct, Ritter Courivaud and Classic are performing well and Chef Direct has got off to a great start and the increase in the interim dividend is evidence of the Board's confidence in the outlook for Booker."

"Subject to competition clearance Booker and Makro will be able to improve choice, prices and service for caterers, retailers and small businesses in the UK. Once integrated, Makro will prove a good addition to the Booker Group," he added.

Net cash increased to £69.8m from £58.7m in 2011 after spending £15.8m on the cash element of the Makro consideration.

CJ

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