Booker acquires specialty foods seller Ritter and pub wholesaler Classic Drinks

Booker acquired Ritter and pub wholesale Classic drinks for an investment pegged at 4 million pounds. Booker, the food and drinks wholesaler undertook the investment as part of expansion plans as it seeks to tap into the larger UK market. Ritter is a specialty foods supplier in the UK. The investment will see Booker takeover the business and assets of Classic Drinks from Classic Drinks Ltd which is a subsidiary of Halewood International Ltd.

Classic Drinks is a supplier of wine, beer, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks to pubs and licensed premises. Currently, the firm does it business from around eight locations from which it operates depots, in the midlands and the North of England. Its yearly sales stand at about 30 million pounds. On its part however, Ritter is a specialty fine foods supplier to some of the foremost restaurants, hotels and contract caterers in the UK.

It was purchased for an estimated 14.5 million pounds and currently boasts annual sales of about 30 million pounds. Despite the deal, Ritter and Classic will carry on with operations under their current management teams and brands, but as of Booker Direct. Booker made the announcement amidst its report of a 5.5 per cent increase in sales to 1.7 billion pounds and profit before tax increasing to 36.9 million, marking about 24 per cent increase. On the other hand, the firm’s internet sales went up by 35.4 per cent to 244.5 million pounds.

Booker chief executive Charles Wilson said the firm is helping more customers compete by improving its choice, prices and service, in line with its strategy for increased business. According to him, the firm’s sales growth is good and its plans to broaden the business are progressing well. He further reiterated Booker’s delight to bring Ritter and Classic into the Booker Group, noting that each company brings new expertise to Booker and will help the Group offer an even better choice and service to caterers in the UK.

Classic is a specialist "on-trade" wholesaler supplying wine, beer, spirits and non-alcoholic drinks to pubs, clubs and licensed premises and has been acquired from Classic Drinks Limited, a subsidiary of Halewood International Limited, for a cash consideration equivalent to the total gross asset value of £4.0m, funded from Booker's existing resources. Classic operates from eight depots in the Midlands and the North of England and has current annual sales of approximately £30 million.

14 Oct 2010.