Booker boss Charles Wilson has insisted Premier, Londis and Budgens retailers are supportive of the group’s proposed merger with Tesco.
The wholesale giant, which owns the three convenience store fascias, has agreed terms on a £3.7bn deal to join forces with Britain’s biggest retailer.
Wilson has embarked on a tour of the UK to speak to hundreds of independent retailers operating under the symbol group banners in a bid to convince them of the merits of the deal.
Many critics of the merger have suggested that independent shop owners would be dismissive of working alongside Tesco.
However, Wilson hit out at Booker’s rivals, suggesting they had been attempting to “agitate” its customers, and insisted the reaction of both retailers and shareholders to the proposed merger had been “good.”
‘Better quality, price, service’
Speaking after Booker posted a 15% spike in full-year pre-tax profits, Wilson said: “We serve some fantastic retailers and they have been as supportive as I could hope.
“The key thing about our retailers is that they’ve got to see the results. With Londis and Budgens, they have seen better quality, price, service and that is helping them grow their businesses.
“A lot of our retailers will just want to see the results. It’s their business, they are very savvy operators and therefore they will listen to us. But the proof is in the pudding.”
“If we don’t give them the improvements that they need and look forward to, then they will give us a hard time and that’s exactly right”
Charles Wilson, Booker
Wilson added: “I think you’ve seen some of our competitors trying to agitate, but look at our performance.
“Customer numbers are in good shape and sales and profits are ahead of the market.
“It’s totally down to us delivering for their business. If we don’t give them the improvements that they need and look forward to, then they will give us a hard time and that’s exactly right.”
Wilson insisted the £3.7bn deal was “on track” to be completed by the end of 2017 or early in 2018, despite a likely probe by the Competition and Markets Authority.
The watchdog took six months to investigate JD Sports’ £112m acquisition of Go Outdoors, before finally approving the takeover this morning.