Changes to Budgens following Booker’s takeover have been welcomed by retailers who say they are benefiting from improved cash margins and less restrictions.

New systems and ranges have been introduced to the symbol group following Booker’s takeover of Musgrave last year, with it now claiming it is “simpler to do business with” as part of its recruitment drive.

Patrick Patel, of Jay’s Budgens in Brockley, south east London, said: “The initial changes have been good, so it’s a positive reaction from us. They’ve been streamlining a lot of prices, making things a lot simpler. The first thing Booker did was to simplify things, as well as improve the cash margin, there are less admin charges too.

“You can see the advantages of Booker as a buying group, as Budgens was quite expensive on the grocery side. There’s more positive, although there’s still work to be done.”

Meanwhile Guy Warner, who opened a new Budgens store in Winchcombe last month, told RN despite reservations about Booker’s Happy Shopper and Farm Fresh value ranges, he is a “big convert”. His value ranges, which sit alongside premium products, big brands and local produce in his new store have proved to be a hit with his customers, he said.

He added he has seen his margin grow around 4% for fresh produce and he is now more competitive on price in areas such as toiletries, homeware and pet food.

Chris Shelley, of Shelley’s Budgens of Holbrook, in Sussex, concurred. He said: “It’s broadly positive and we’re delighted with how the store is trading. The changes implemented have been good, we’ve seen product ranges improve and margins improve. The reductions in restrictions is very positive too, we want to use more local suppliers and it was quite restrictive.”

Budgens brand director Mike Baker said the new proposition, under the banner “Fresh thinking from Budgens”, was a much simpler package, boosted profitability, improved the supply chain and extended own brand options. It had been welcomed by retailers, he added.