Booker snaps up rival Makro

Deal will bring ‘better choice, price and service’ for trade customers


WHOLESALE group Booker aims to strengthen its position as a supplier to the catering and licensed trades by snapping up rival cash and carry business Makro in a £140 million deal.

Chief executive Charles Wilson said both Booker and Makro customers will benefit from “better choice, price and service via the internet, delivery or cash and carry” as a result of the acquisition.
The takeover, which is subject to Booker shareholder approval, will see Makro’s parent company, the German retail and wholesale firm Metro Group, issued with £123.9m-worth of new ordinary shares in Booker Group, as well as £15.8m in cash.
Under the deal, Booker will take over Makro’s 30 purpose-built sites across the UK (giving it more than 200 branches), which serve more than one million customers – mainly small and medium-sized businesses. This customer base is said to complement Booker’s focus on catering and retail customers.
Booker’s range of own-label products, including Chef’s Larder, Booker Basics, Farm Fresh and Euroshopper, will be made available to Makro customers, with Booker customers able to buy some of Makro’s product ranges in branch and online. Booker’s speciality catering ranges will continue to be supplied by its Ritter Courivaud subsidiary and on-trade ranges will be supplied by its Classic Drinks business, both of which it acquired in October 2010.
Booker will also expand its online services to Makro members, and said the increased number of branches would allow it to improve its delivery service.
Wilson said the acquisition, which was confirmed after Booker reported a 9.4% increase in total sales to £3.9bn for the 53 weeks to March 30, will enable both firms to offer an “improved professional range” for customers.
“Through working together, Booker and Makro UK will improve choice, prices and service for retailers, caterers and SMEs throughout the UK,” he said.
“Together we will offer a wide range of foods and non-foods to our professional customers, via the internet, delivery and cash and carry.”
Olaf Koch, chairman of the management board at Metro Group, acknowledged that the market has been tough for Makro UK in recent years, and described its recent performance, in which it recorded a pre-tax loss of £63.2m, as “unsatisfying”.
“Booker is very well positioned in the UK market, with a great brand perception and vast experience in managing product ranges and in customer services,” Koch said.
“Therefore we are convinced that this new set up meets all requirements for future success in the UK, while allowing Metro Group to further concentrate on countries within our strategic focus.”

Image: Wilson said the deal will benefit customers.