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October 17, 2013

UK: Booker sees H1 earnings jump

UK wholesale and convenience retailer Booker Group has reported a jump in half-years profits thanks to higher sales and the benefit from synergies from its acquisition of Metro Group's local cash-and-carry chain.

By Dean Best

UK wholesale and convenience retailer Booker Group has reported a jump in half-years profits thanks to higher sales and the benefit from synergies from its acquisition of Metro Group’s local cash-and-carry chain.

Booker posted a 43% leap in profit after tax to GBP53.8m (US$86.7m) for the 24 weeks to 13 September.

Operating profit, excluding a GBP7m “credit” related to the purchase of Metro’s UK Makro division, was up 16% at GBP15.9m.

Total sales were up 16.5% at GBP2.2bn. Like-for-like non-tobacco sales increased 5%.

Premier, Booker’s symbol convenience store chain, saw sales grow 8%.

Outside the UK, Booker said its Indian business “continues to make progress” after opening two stores over the period to take its network to six.

The company also increased its dividend and pledged to return GBP60m in cash to shareholders next year thanks to the “successful integration” of Makro and “strong cash generation”.

Shore Capital analyst Darren Shirley said Booker had delivered “further strong profit progress”.

“The delivery of such an outcome largely implies delivery of synergies from the acquired Makro business earlier than we had anticipated,” he said in a note.

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