May 23, 2013 / 7:41 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Cash-and-carry wholesaler Booker's profit jumps 13 pct

* Full-year pretax profit rises 13 pct to 101.4 mln stg

* Revenue rises 3.5 pct

* Says trading in first seven weeks of current year ahead of last year

* Final dividend 2.25 pence vs 1.95 pence last year

May 23 (Reuters) - Booker Group Plc, Britain’s biggest cash-and-carry wholesaler, reported a 13 percent rise in full-year profit, helped by demand from small retailers and growing online sales.

Booker, which runs over 170 branches supplying caterers, convenience stores, grocers, restaurants and pubs, has defied the downturn in the UK cash and carry market and managed to grow sales, as Britons increasingly shop at local convenience stores instead of supermarkets.

The company said trading in the first seven weeks of the current financial year was ahead of last year.

The wholesaler, which acquired the struggling UK operations of German retailer Metro AG - Makro - in May 2012, said it expected the acquisition to help operating profit grow by 10 million pounds in the year ending March 2014.

“We’re expecting, as we go into the second half, Makro will start to become profitable for us,” Chief Executive Charles Wilson told Reuters.

Booker operated Makro as a separate unit until Britain’s monopoly watchdog cleared the acquisition in April.

Pretax profit rose to 101.4 million pounds ($152.54 million) in the 52 weeks to March 29, from 89.7 million pounds in the comparable year-earlier period.

Revenue rose 3.5 percent to 4 billion pounds.

Analysts on average expected a pretax profit of 96.25 million pounds and revenue of 4.09 billion pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company said sales to caterers, which includes pubs and restaurants, rose 6.2 percent, while internet sales grew about 11 percent to 704 million pounds.

The wholesaler raised its final dividend to 2.25 pence per share from 1.95 pence a year earlier.

Booker’s shares were up 1 percent at 131 pence at 0835 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. The stock has gained about a third in value since the beginning of the year.

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