Booker growth continues

By Elliot Kuruvita

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Drink wholesaler booker Olive oil Public house Booker Makro

Booker sales up
Food and drink wholesaler Booker has increased sales to caterers by 7.1 % in the past year, to £1.6 billion.

The group, which has 40,000 pub customers, saw total sales grow to £4.7 billion, up 17.3% in the year to 28 March.

The company, which merged with Makro in April last year, now has 172 Booker Wholesale business centres, 30 Makros and delivery businesses Ritter-Courivaud, Chef Direct and Classic Drinks.

Chef Direct customers include pubcos Shepherd Neame, Revolution, Admiral Taverns, G1 Group, Star Pubs & Bars and Robinson’s.

The company now has 466k catering customers.

Makro, which reported losses of £18m in 2012 reported profits of £11m this year, but sales had fallen 9% during the year after it "exited some unprofitable product categories." The company is planning that Makro will continue to experience a sales loss this year as they continue to move away from consumers and focus on professional customers.

Locked down prices

In the past year Booker has "locked down" prices of key catering products such as chips and cooking oil and this will continue.

David Cattrall, sales director - catering, said: "By lowering the price of key products such as frozen chips to just £1.39 for 2.27kg we are providing fantastic value on core commodity ingredients to help our catering customers operate a profitable business. "

Chief executive Charles Wilson reported that one pub customer with four sites has saved £20k in the past year by utilising this chip deal.

Other prices which have been lowered from last year and are guaranteed until 9 September are Chef's Essentials 10lt mayonnaise at £8.59 (£9.99 last year) and Chef's Larder 5lt xtra virgin olive oil at £13.99( £15.99 last year).

The Chef's Essentials range was rebranded from Booker Basics in the past year to appeal to a wider audience and is achieving weekly sales of £2.1 million, with sales up  27% year on year.

A new range of 73 new cleaning products called Clean Pro is also achieving weekly sales of £200k.

Online sales were also up 10% to £777m in the past year. The number of products available on the web has increased from 8,000 in 2012 to 29,000 in 2014, with more Makro, Ritter and Classic Drinks products also becoming available this year. 

More new format stores

In Sheffield, Belfast and Preston the company has developed a new Makro/Booker format, which has been tailored to local markets. Five more sites will be converted to the new format this year, including  Enfield, Park Royal and Charlton.

The company has also now converted 150 of its 172 centres into the ‘Extra’ format, with three more planned for next year.

The company is also continuing to roll out the expertise of on-trade wholesaler Classic Drinks which it aquired in 2010 in to Booker, with on-trade wines exclusive to Classic now in Booker.

Re-configuration of Makro space will allow the expansion of delivered capacity from 2015/16 onwards.

Booker sites now have more qualified butchers and greengrocers, with 28 new butchers and 50 greengrocers completing apprenticeships in the past year in partnership with the University of West London. Both schemes are running again this year.

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