Booker has reassured retailers scared that their stores will become “mini Tescos” by saying they have nothing to fear from its merger with the retail giant.
The wholesaler announced its £3.7bn deal to join forces with Tesco on January 27, which led to panic among many retailers under Booker’s Premier, Londis, Budgens and Family Shopper fascias about what the future may hold for their stores.
Booker Group chief executive Charles Wilson was adamant that independents would only benefit from the merger.
“Are we going to be turning Booker retailers into mini Tescos? Not a chance,” he said. “Independent retailers know what they want and what they need, it’s our job to earn their business and to serve them.”
Wilson promised the deal would deliver better service, choice and competitive prices for its retailers, and said product quality would also increase – particularly on fruit & veg, where Booker will be able to “plug” into Tesco’s supply chain.
There are no plans to bring Tesco own brand products into independent stores, he added.
“We see this as an opportunity to continue doing a better job. Generally, a lot of retailers are complaining that rates are going up, national living wage is going up, pension auto-enrolment is costing them money, and they’re getting hit with a number of things at a time when business is pretty difficult,” he added. “This deal helps our independent retailers compete.”
The merger is subject to approval by the Competition and Markets Authority, but Wilson said he hoped it would go through by the end of this year or beginning of 2018.