Booker has reported a 10% rise in pre-tax profits to £74.1m in the 24 weeks to 11 September, despite seeing a 3.7% drop in its tobacco sales.

The wholesaler said total sales for the period dipped by 1% to £2.2bn, although like-for-like non-tobacco sales grew 0.6%.

Speaking about the results, Booker chief executive Charles Wilson said: “Tobacco has been weak, primarily down to the display ban but also due to the weather, people moving into vaping and the illicit trade. But overall, we are pleased with our non-tobacco sales in a challenging market.”

booker

We are committed to improving fresh across the group, improving private label, and giving the scale benefits we have in local service

Mr Wilson also gave an update on the recent acquisition of Musgrave, saying Booker is expecting to make a £3m loss on Budgens and Londis in the current financial year.

However, he predicted both symbol chains would deliver £5m profit by March 2017 through a combination of “better efficiencies and infrastructure” in conjunction with the company’s Premier and Family Shopper stores.

Mr Wilson added: “People have questioned our commitment to Londis and Budgens brands in the past.

“But our analysis shows that the four businesses are complementary, with only about 40 markets where Premier and Londis are in competition. So we feel we can offer a compelling symbol solution for retailers across the land.

“We are also committed to improving fresh across the group, improving private label, and giving the scale benefits we have in local service.”