Booker interim results: high aspirations for 2016

By Daniel Woolfson

- Last updated on GMT

Booker MD: pub trade to be "big part" of company's future
Booker MD: pub trade to be "big part" of company's future

Related tags: National living wage, Summer of love

Booker expects to see continually strong performance in the pub sector in 2016, it said, after posting its interim results this morning.

Managing director Stuart Hyslop said he expected the company’s presence in the pub sector to be “as strong as ever” over the next year.

“We’ve got a very good relationship with a lot of independent customers and we’re also working with a lot of really good pubcos so I think that’s going to be a big part of our future,” he added.

This comes as the wholesaler reported total sales for the 24 weeks ending September 2015 down 1% to £2.2bn but like-for-like non-tobacco sales up 0.6%.

Booker CEO:
As we sail in to next year with things like the national living wage I think we’re going to see pubs really having to keep a close eye on their costs and so that’s where Booker plays very well

Growing share

Booker CEO Charles Wilson said: “I think our share within the sector is probably growing. As we sail in to next year with things like the national living wage I think we’re going to see pubs really having to keep a close eye on their costs and so that’s where Booker plays very well when there’s that sort of pressure.”

Operating profit and profit before tax rose respectively by 10% each to £75m and £74.1m over the same period, with profit after tax rising by 10% on the same period last year to £60.8m and internet sales also up by 11% to £461m.

Challenges

Hyslop said the summer of 2015 had been challenging for many of Booker’s customers in the pub trade due to unpredictability of demand and the lack of consistent weather affecting trade over the summer months.

“I can only echo what the customers are saying and that is the unpredictability of demand – I was with one last week who was saying that they had 20 bookings for lunch and actually ended up with 200 walking in without any bookings,” he said.

“It’s a high class problem to have but I think it swings the other way as well where we’ve got a lot of last minute cancellations.”

And, he added: “I think it would be fair to say that we’ve all seen the weather through the summer which wasn’t particularly great for anybody but what we have seen has been some really good operators making the most of that.

“It’s been an unpredictable summer that’s bringing its own pressures to the customers but what we’ve tried to do is just be there for them.”

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