Tesco hopes profit boost will ease investor worries over Booker merger

 
Helen Cahill
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The merger is also being looked at by the competition watchdog (Source: Getty)

Tesco is expected to announce a boost to profits this week as the supermarket seeks investor approval for its purchase of wholesaler Booker.

The UK’s biggest supermarket announced its intention to merge with Booker, which owns Budgens and Londis convenience store chains, in January.

And on Wednesday, analysts are expecting Tesco’s operating profits to rise by more than a third to £1.3bn for this year.

Read more: Up to 3,000 jobs at risk as Tesco cuts down opening hours at 69 stores

Consensus forecasts are predicting pre-tax profits to come in at £780m.

Several investors are concerned that Tesco’s £3.7bn takeover of Booker will distract the company as it recovers from the accounting scandal of 2014.

Schroders and Artisan Partners, which own nine per cent of Tesco together, wrote to the grocer’s chairman John Allan to say the deal should be stopped.

However, it is not just the investors that will need convincing if the mega-merger is to go ahead.

The Competition and Markets Authority is assessing whether the takeover will give Tesco-Booker too much power in food retailing.

Read more: Another influential shareholder group's attacked Tesco's Booker mega-merger

It will be looking at the parts of the country where Tesco and Booker convenience stores overlap.

Experts have predicted that Tesco will have to shut hundreds of its stores, known as Tesco Express stores, in order to keep the watchdog happy.

Tesco has said that there will be minimal job losses as a result of the merger. However, in separate measures, last week Tesco announced that it was trimming night shifts for shelf stackers, putting 3,000 jobs at risk across 69 stores.

Chief executive Dave Lewis has been trying to cut £1.5bn from Tesco’s cost base since he was appointed to turn around the retailer in 2014.

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