News Column

Booker Annual Profit Boosted By Makro Purchase; Ups Dividend 22%

May 22, 2014

Rowena Harris-Doughty

LONDON (Alliance News) - UK food wholesaler Booker Group PLC Thursday reported a significant increase in its pretax profit for its recent financial year, boosted by its acquisition of Makro last year, which drove a 17% increase in revenue.

The company raised its total dividend for the year ended March 28 by 22% to 3.20 pence

Booker warned that the UK food market remains very competitive and said it expects the challenging environment to persist in the coming year, but it said that trading in the first seven weeks of the current financial year is ahead of last year.

"Whilst there is increasing price competition in the UK grocery and discount sectors, we will continue to deliver our plans to offer our customers even better choice, prices and service, supported by the continued delivery of the Makro synergy plans and our efficiency programmes. We are on track to deliver an outcome for the new financial year in line with our plans and to make progress in this challenging environment," the company said in a statement.

Booker reported pretax profit of GBP122.1 million for the recent financial year, up 33% on the GBP101.4 million reported a year earlier, as revenues, including sales from Makro, rose 17% for the year as a whole to GBP4.68 billion, up from GBP3.99 billion. Online sales in the year rose 10% to GBP777 million.

On a like-for-like basis, Booker sales excluding Makro grew 2.1%, with non-tobacco sales up 4.4%, and tobacco sales down 1.7%. It said the drive into the catering market is paying off, with Booker like-for-like sales to caterers, excluding Makro, up by 7.1%. Booker like-for-like sales to retailers, excluding Makro, fell by 0.5%, which it said was due to a contraction in the UK duty paid tobacco market.

The group has been busy aligning the Booker and Makro businesses into a single unit, and said Thursday that the Makro turnaround is on track, having delivered GBP26 million in synergies.

Booker has also been expanding abroad, opening two new branches in India in the year, bringing th total to six Indian branches.

Shares in Booker Group were down 3.3% Thursday morning, trading at 137.70 pence.

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Source: Alliance News

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