|Traded as||LSE: BOK|
|Key people||Richard Rose, Chairman
Charles Wilson, CEO
|Products||Cash and carry outlets|
|Revenue||£3,932.8 million (2012)|
|Operating income||£89.6 million (2012)|
|Net income||£74.9 million (2012)|
Booker Group plc is the United Kingdom's largest food wholesale operator, offering branded and private-label goods to over 400,000 customers including independent convenience stores, grocers, pubs and restaurants. The firm is listed on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index and was the former sponsor of the Booker Prize for fiction which was established in 1968.
The Company was founded by George and Richard Booker in 1835 when they bought their first ship and established the Booker Line. It diversified into the distribution of goods rather than the mere shipping of them and gradually disposed of its fleet of ships: the focus was on food wholesale distribution and by 1978 the Company had over 100 warehouses across the UK and trading as Booker, McConnell Ltd.
Among other interests, it operated the sugar industry in Guyana (British Guiana before independence in 1966), running five Booker line ships, until it was nationalized circa 1970. After six months Booker was called back to market the sugar. Booker had a long history of exploitation of sugar workers through the indentured labour system during the 19th and 20th centuries. At its peak it controlled 75% of the sugar industry in British Guiana and was so powerful that a common joke was to refer to the country as 'Booker's Guiana'. In 1952 Jock Campbell took over the Chairmanship of the company and his Fabian social politics transformed it dramatically into a benevolent force providing major benefits for sugar workers. Jock Campbell was also instrumental in the setting up of the Booker's Author Division, which sponsored the Booker Prize, now sponsored by the Man Group plc. The group also held the rights to Agatha Christie's extensive book collection until 1998 when it was sold to Chorion who bought Booker's 64% stake in Agatha Christie Ltd for £10million.
In 1986, the company set up a short lived co-venture between the directors of Siriol Animation to create Kalisto Ltd.. Kalisto also developed a show called Space Baby (which eventually became Fantastic Max), along with another series called Satellite City (which was co-produced with Fairwater Films) and the animated film The Little Engine That Could. Kalisto barely lasted a year before Booker bought the rights back.
In 2000 Booker was purchased by Iceland Supermarkets, via its Big Food Group vehicle. Then in 2005 Big Food Group was in turn bought by acquisitive Icelandic group Baugur, which split Booker and Iceland again into different companies. In June 2007 Booker reversed into AIM-listed wholesaler of groceries Blueheath, to form Booker Group plc.
Baugur sold all its assets in Booker Cash & Carry in June 2008 only weeks after its founder was found guilty of accounting irregularities. Baugur collapsed in February 2009 amidst the Icelandic financial crisis.
In 2009, Booker opened its first store in India in Mumbai. The UK chain continues to explore options outside Maharashtra and in the next five years, plans as many as 20 cash and carry stores in India.
On the 30th May 2012, Metro Group of Germany sold the 30 Makro UK stores and all operational assets to Booker Group Plc in return for 9.99% of Booker's share capital, plus £15.8 million in cash. On the 29th May the share transaction was valued at £123.9 million. The merger was immediately referred to the Office of Fair Trading, who in Novermber 2012 referred it to the Competition Commission. The Commission will decide whether the acquisition "may be expected to result in a substantial lessening of competition in any market or markets for goods or services in the UK. Booker and Makro are both major national cash and carry wholesalers to independent retailers and caterers. The cash and carry market is worth an estimated £11 billion in the UK."
The CC is expected to publish its final report by 24 April 2013.
The Company supplies approximately 326,000 catering businesses and 78,000 independent retailers; it also operates cash and carry branches throughout the United Kingdom (as well as a few in India) and operates a national delivery service in the UK.
See also 
- Happy Shopper – Booker product branding and former convenience store chain
- Premier Stores– Booker convenience store chain
- Euro Shopper- Product branding across Europe, owned by Booker in the UK.
- Preliminary Results 2012
- Booker Line 1835 - 1978, Page 2
- Booker Line 1835 - 1978, Page16
- Man Booker Prize Retrieved 3 September 2009
- "Chorion grabs the Booker prize". BBC News. 3 June 1998.
- "Booker PLC". IMBd. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- Iceland buys Booker Eurofood, 8 June 2000
- Baugur buys UK's Big Food Group BBC News, 19 December 2004
- "BFG agrees to Baugur bid". Food & Drink. 20 December, 2004. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Fletcher, Richard (12 May 2007). "Baugur profits plunge by more than two thirds Box Head arrow to line with head". London: Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 2008-04-06.
- Baugur sells Booker stake as part of focus on retail, Retail Week, 2008-06-24, retrieved 2008-12-27
- "Baugur boss loses court appeal". Reuters. 6 June 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2010.
- "Hamleys investor seeks protection". BBC News. 2009-02-04. Retrieved 2009-02-04.
- "UK's cash & carry plans 20 India stores in 5 years". Business Standard. 7 March 2012. Retrieved 8 April 2012.
- Booker Group: What we do
- Official website
- Booker Wholesale Website
- Booker Cash & Carry Ltd history
- Booker Wholesale Homepage
- Premier Stores Symbol Group
- Booker Wholesale - Own Label Products
- Booker Wholesale - Catering Offer
- Booker Wholesale - Retail Offer