Booker's sales rise on demand from small businesses

Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:59am EST

Jan 17 (Reuters) - Booker Group Plc, Britain's biggest cash-and-carry wholesaler, reported a rise in sales in the 16 weeks to Jan. 4, helped by demand from small businesses.

The company, which runs more than 170 branches supplying caterers, convenience stores, grocers, restaurants and pubs, said like-for-like sales were up 3.1 percent during the period.

Booker has defied the downturn in the sector, managing to grow sales as Britons increasingly shop at their local convenience store instead of supermarkets.

The company's non-tobacco sales increased 4.1 percent on a like-for-like basis, while tobacco sales were up 1.3 percent.

It said the results exclude the performance of Makro, which was challenging in the quarter but in line with its expectations.

Booker acquired Makro, the loss-making UK business of German retailer Metro AG, in July last year.

Shares in Booker closed at 98.7 pence on the London Stock Exchange on Wednesday.