Wholesale and catering group, Booker has reported that sales over Q3 (13 weeks to 28 November 2020) and the Christmas trading period (6 weeks to 9 January 2021), grew by 12.4% including a 14% contribution from Best Food Logistics, which was acquired in early March.
Retail continued to perform well throughout the period with sales up +14%. Catering performance has been strongly correlated to the severity of UK COVID-19 restrictions including a recovery following the ‘Eat Out to Help Out’ scheme leading into the start of the third quarter.
As restrictions have tightened, the severity of the decline in the hospitality sector overall led to a fall in our catering sales of (49)% on a like-for-like basis over the Christmas period, compared to around (30)% for the third quarter. We continue to outperform the catering industry as a whole.
In ROI, like-for-like sales over the 19-week period grew by +12.1% with the strongest contribution from our large stores. We remain the clear online grocery market leader with sales growing by nearly +70% as we increased capacity in response to record demand. In the third quarter, we achieved our highest recorded customer NPS scores as service, value and quality perceptions all stepped forward.
Like-for-like sales in Central Europe grew by +0.9% in the third quarter, as we continued to strengthen our value proposition and traded over a weaker comparable period due to the re-sizing and simplifying of our businesses last year.
Since then, the tightening of COVID-19 restrictions - including curfews preventing evening trading, temporary Sunday trading bans, and restrictions on the sale of non-food – have affected all of our markets in the region. In particular, this had a significant impact on our large stores and contributed to a (4.2)% decline in like-for-like sales over the Christmas period.