Booker posted a jump in full-year profits

Booker posted a jump in full-year profits

UK cash and carry group Booker posted a jump in full-year profits as a series of initiatives to improve the group's offer drove up sales.

The company reported today (19 May) that net profit for the year ended 25 March rose 24% to GBP59.1m (US$59.4m).

Total sales were up 6.2% to GBP3.6bn, while like-for-like sales, excluding tobacco, were up 5.3%. Operating margin over the year was up 0.16 percentage points to 2.13%. Operating profit rose 15% to GBP76.5m.

Chairman Richard Rose said Booker's plans to broaden the business are "going well", with the company completing the conversion of 115 of its 172 outlets to its "lighter, brighter and more modern" Extra format.

The company's delivered wholesale grew over the year, with sales in that division up 16.7% to GBP930m. Online sales grew 29% to GBP526m against the previous year, and Rose added that its Indian business continues to "trade well".

Chief executive Charles Wilson said that due to significant improvements in its fresh departments, sales of fresh produce were up 53%. "We are confident that our fresh business will continue to power ahead in the next few years," he said.

Meanwhile, the group's Euro Shopper entry-level private-label reported a 27% sales increase over the year to GBP56m.

Rose said Booker expects the economy to "remain difficult in the year ahead and the food wholesale market remains very competitive". However, he expects the company to "make progress in this challenging environment", adding that the "exceptional weather" in the first seven weeks of the current year has led to a "good start".