Booker posts strong first quarter sales, stock rises

<div>CASH-and-carry group Booker yesterday posted a 7.8 per cent increase in underlying first-quarter sales, stronger than it anticipated less than two months ago, and said profit was in line with its expectations.<br /><br />Booker, which runs over 170 branches supplying grocers and caterers as well as schools and prisons, said&nbsp;total sales in the 12 weeks to 19 June&nbsp;also rose 7.8 per cent.<br /><br />Non-tobacco sales rose 10.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in the first quarter, while like-for-like tobacco sales were up 3.9 per cent.<br /><br />At its annual results in May, Booker said it did not expect underlying first-quarter sales growth would be as strong as the 6.4 per cent increase it saw in its fourth quarter.<br /><br />&ldquo;Profits and net debt remain in line with management expectations,&rdquo; Booker said.<br /><br />The group&rsquo;s shares yesterday lifted by 3.7 per cent to 35p.</div>