UPDATE 1-Booker sales rise, says Makro business trading in line

Thu Apr 4, 2013 3:07am EDT

LONDON, April 4 (Reuters) - Booker Group Plc, Britain's biggest cash-and-carry wholesaler, said its recently acquired Makro business was trading in line as it reported a rise in group sales in the quarter.

The company, which runs 172 branches supplying caterers, convenience stores, grocers, restaurants and pubs, said total like-for-like sales were up 2.2 percent in the 12 weeks to 29 March compared to last year.

The company said that annual profits remain in line with expectations.

Analysts are forecasting full-year pretax profit of 95.7 million pounds ($144.9 million), according to Reuters estimates.

The company's quarterly non-tobacco sales rose 4.2 percent on a like-for-like basis, while tobacco sales were down 0.9 percent.

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

Total sales for the year to 29 March 2013 were 4 billion pounds, up by 3.5 percent compared to last year and in line with expectations, boosted by rising internet sales.

Last month, the Competition Commission provisionally cleared Booker's merger with Makro, the loss-making UK business of German retailer Metro.

Until it receives formal clearance, Booker is required to hold the Makro business separate, but it said that the Makro business had been trading in line with its expectations in the quarter.