Booker Group reported higher sales in the 12 weeks to 16 June, although tobacco sales dropped by eight per cent in the period.
Total sales went up four per cent in the first quarter, with like-for-likes up 4.2 per cent. Tobacco sales were down 8.2 per cent, and showed a 7.9 per cent reduction on a like-for-like basis.
Non-tobacco sales rose 9.4 per cent, and like-for-likes were up 9.6 per cent.
Shares in the company rose 0.6 per cent at the open.
Why it's interesting
The Londis and Budgens owner said its balance sheet remains strong, and added that it plans to seek shareholder approval to pay a special dividend of 3.02p per share, which will cost £54m in total, at its annual general meeting (AGM) later today. The one-off payout comes on top of a 4.97p final divi also being proposed at the AGM.
The figures come as Booker prepares to be taken over by Tesco in a £3.7bn deal unveiled in January. Tesco last week urged the competition watchdog to speed up its investigation into the acquisition. The companies said in May they are aiming to complete the merger by early 2018 at the latest.
What Booker said
"This was a good quarter," said Booker chief executive Charles Wilson.
"Our plans to focus, drive and broaden the group are on track. On 27 January we announced the planned merger with Tesco and we are going through the competition process. Meanwhile business as usual is going well as we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our retail, catering and small business customers."