July 5, 2017 / 6:18 AM / 3 years ago

Tesco acquisition target Booker's first quarter like-for-like sales up 4.2 percent

LONDON (Reuters) - Booker Group, the wholesaler Tesco is trying to buy for 3.7 billion pounds, said like-for-like sales rose 4.2 percent in its first quarter, helped by favourable weather and a late Easter.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a Tesco supermarket in central London, December 9, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

Chief Executive Charles Wilson said it was a good quarter, with the company continuing to make progress as the regulatory process for the Tesco deal rumbles on.

“On 27 January we announced the planned merger with Tesco and we are going through the competition process,” he said on Wednesday, ahead of the group’s AGM.

“Meanwhile business as usual is going well as we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our retail, catering and small business customers.”

Tesco and Booker last month asked competition regulators to “fast track” its examination of the deal to a more detailed second stage, which could last up to 24 weeks.

As well as supplying convenience chains Budgens and Londis and operating the Makro cash and carry business, Booker serves restaurants such as Wagamama and Carluccio’s, a fast-growing market segment that Tesco wants to tap.

Booker said non-tobacco sales grew by 9.6 percent on a like-for-like basis in the 12 weeks to 16 June. Tobacco sales continued to be adversely impacted by changes in tobacco legislation, it said, and were down 7.9 percent.

Analysts at HSBC had expected non-tobacco like-for-like sales growth of around 5 percent for the third quarter running.

Shares in Booker were up 1.3 percent at 186.6 pence in early trade. Tesco’s cash and shares’ offer values the stock at 200 pence.

Shares in Tesco were trading up 1.7 percent at 170 pence.

Reporting by Paul Sandle; Editing by Susan Fenton

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