Booker, the UK’s leading food and drink wholesaler, boosted third-quarter sales by 7.2% despite the impact of the poor weather on its catering and retail customers.
“It was a very unpredictable run up to the end of the year for most caterers, made even more so by the sporadic poor weather up and down the country,” commented Ron Hickey, sales director for catering at Booker.
Nevertheless, the group managed to increase both customer numbers and average spend per customer in the 16 weeks to 31 December, a rise it attributes to improved choice, price and service.
Like-for-like sales (excluding tobacco) grew by 5.5% and fresh fruit and vegetable sales soared by 54%.
Booker supplies some 3.05,000 catering business and 73,000 independent retailers through its 172 cash and carry depots and a nationwide delivery service. It stocks around 18,000 product lines.
Its two October 2010 acquisitions (Ritter-Courivaud, a supplier of fine foods to restaurants, hotels and contract caterers and Classic, which sells alcohol and soft drinks to pubs and clubs) are performing in line with expectations.
On the overseas front, Booker plans to open its second Mumbai depot and its first joint-venture branch in India this spring.
For the half-year to 10 September 2010, the group reported a 5.5% rise in revenue to £1.7b and a 22.7% rise in pre-tax profit to £30.03m.
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