The UK’s largest cash and carry wholesaler Booker Group put in an “encouraging” and “strong” performance in the third quarter, according to analysts.

The group this morning (16 January) revealed a sales increase in the 16 weeks ended 4 January total of 3.1%, with like-for-like sales also up 3.1%. In Booker’s cash and carry division, the firm said customer numbers were up and sales were in line with expectations.

Shore Capital analyst Clive Black said that within Booker’s business, “the narrative is encouraging” and that “good progress continues to be made”.

“We are pleased to see that Booker Wholesale has had a ‘good quarter’ and that Booker Direct and Ritter Courivaud ‘performed well’. We are also pleased to see that the Classic business is being rolled out as a national proposition to the on-trade whilst Chef Direct made ‘good progress’ and management is clearly pleased to have been listed by US foodservice group Aramark in this division.”

“Booker’s Q3 data shows a continuation of the solid growth we saw delivered in 1H.”

She did note that Booker’s Makro business remains “challenging” but said it nonetheless performed “in line with management expectations from a P&L and cash perspective”.

Booker’s third-quarter results excluded the Makro business, which it acquired in July from Germany’s Metro, due to an ongoing review by the Competition Commission.

Black questioned the need for the investigation and said he remains “concerned about the scope for unpleasant surprises from the regulator”.

Black said its forecasts were unchanged at the present time and that he did not see any material adjustments to consensus expectations for 2012/13.

Booker said its outlook for profit and net cash for the year remains in line with expectations.