Booker snaps up Londis and Budgens

FOOD wholesale group Booker, which owns the Makro cash and carry chain, has announced a further move into convenience store retailing with a deal to buy the Londis and Budgens chain.

Booker, which acquired ailing Irlam-based Makro three years ago, said its £40m deal for Londis and Budgens, is conditional on the approval of competition authorities.

The group said the proposed deal for the loss-making chain, would help independent retailers and claimed consumers would benefit from lower prices too. It said it would “further develop” the Budgens and Londis brands alongside its own existing retail brands Premier and Family Shopper.

Booker said: “The increased scale and operational efficiency should help lower prices, and retailers will benefit from a better delivery and cash and carry service.  This will help independents prosper amid the changes that are occurring in the grocery market.”

In its results for the 52 weeks to the end of March, operating profits surged 17% to £140.3m on total sales up 1.5% to £4.8bn.

Chief executive Charles Wilson said:  “This was a good year.  Customer satisfaction continued to improve, which helped grow group sales to £4.8bn. Our plans to focus, drive and broaden the business remain on track. We look forward to helping our customers prosper in the years ahead.”

Shareholders should prosper too, as Booker said it would return more than £60m to investors in the shape of a 3.5p per share payout.

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