Wholesale giant Booker lifted by warm weather

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Booker has enjoyed a “strong” rise in second-quarter sales as the warm summer weather boosted demand among the wholesaler’s customers.

The UK’s largest cash-and-carry operator said revenues at its eponymous chain of 172 stores grew 3.5 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the 12 weeks to 13 September, despite a 2 per cent fall in tobacco sales.

Chief executive Charles Wilson said: “Customer numbers were up, generating strong sales. The warm summer weather helped our customers.”

Total sales, including the Makro business it acquired in a £140 million deal last year, jumped 19.3 per cent compared with the same period last year, with non-tobacco takings surging by 30 per cent.

Wilson said the Makro chain, which has 30 stores across the UK, saw its fortunes improve as the year progressed, with non-tobacco sales down 0.6 per cent, compared with a decline of 3.6 per cent in the first quarter.

He added: “Booker has had a good start to the year as we continue to focus, drive and broaden our enlarged business. Our plans for bringing Booker and Makro together are on track.”

Booker is due to release its half-year results on 17 October, and Investec analyst Nicola Mallard, who has a “buy” rating on its shares, expects an operating profit of £115m for the full year, up from £99.1m last time.