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Wholesaler Booker's second quarter buoyed by non-tobacco sales
September 18, 2014 / 6:59 AM / in 3 years

Wholesaler Booker's second quarter buoyed by non-tobacco sales

(Reuters) - Booker Group Plc, Britain's biggest cash-and-carry wholesaler, said a robust performance at its non-tobacco business helped it post a marginal increase in second-quarter sales.

Shares in the company jumped 4.5 percent to 121.5 pence in morning trade on Thursday on the London Stock Exchange.

The company said total group sales, including its loss-making cash-and-carry business Makro, rose 0.1 percent.

Booker's non-tobacco like-for-like sales rose 3.1 percent in the quarter, while Makro's non-tobacco like-for-like sales fell 10.8 percent as the company continued to dispose of unprofitable categories such as fashion and electricals.

JP Morgan Cazenove analysts said strong performance at Booker's catering and retail businesses helped it "outperform the market despite the deflationary trends and increased price competition within the UK food retail/wholesale industry."

Booker runs 172 branches supplying grocery, spirits, tobacco and non-food items to caterers, convenience stores, restaurants and pubs in the UK. Non-tobacco sales represent more than 60 percent of Booker's total sales.

Booker bought Makro from German retailer Metro AG in 2012 to increase its reach to small firms and hotels.

Metro, which became Booker's largest shareholder as a result of the deal, sold its 9 percent stake in the wholesaler earlier this month for 196 million pounds.

Reporting by Aastha Agnihotri and Abhiram Nandakumar in Bangalore; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier

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