Booker chief leaves after second profit warning of the year

THE CHIEF executive of Booker, the struggling cash and carry group, is to leave the company after it issued its second profits warning of the year yesterday.

Charles Bowen, who has overseen a dramatic decline in Booker's fortunes in recent years, has already given up all his executive responsibilities and could be in line for a pay-off of more than pounds 600,000 under the terms of his two-year rolling contract. He was paid a salary of pounds 315,000 for the year to 1996, the last year for which details on directors' pay are available.

"The company has under-performed for years and he has paid the price for that," said one analyst. According to Booker's finance director, John Kitson, Mr Bowen was asked to leave by a unanimous decision of the rest of the board after it became clear the group was going to have to announce another profits alert.

Mr Bowen was responsible for the pounds 264m acquisition of rival cash & carry firm Nurdin & Peacock 18 months ago. The integration has been poorly handled and since then Booker has issued four profits warnings. "The erosion of shareholder value has been quite remarkable," said one analyst. Booker shares stood at 470p at one point in 1994. Yesterday they closed 4p lower at 240p.

A strategic review of Booker's operations will now be undertaken by Alan Smith, the Storehouse chairman, who moves up to become deputy chairman. He will report on the review's findings at the annual meeting in June.

Analysts expect it to recommend the sale of all Booker's businesses apart from cash and carry and food distribution. Businesses up for sale could include UK and American agribusiness such as salmon farming, a fish processing business and the prepared foods operation which makes sandwiches and ready-made meals for supermarkets.

Analysts said these interests could fetch a combined total of around pounds 250m which could be returned to shareholders. They expect a cut in the dividend and some say the shares could be worth close to 300p.

The slimming down of Booker follows similar moves by other food groups such as Perkins Foods, Hillsdown Holdings and Dalgety.

Booker blamed its latest profit warning on operational difficulties in the integration of the Nurdin cash and carry business. This will mean the "full financial benefits will now be realised slower than planned".

The strength of sterling has also affected salmon prices and therefore profits. Booker said it expects 1988 profits to be "somewhat below market expectations". Analysts cut their forecasts from as high as pounds 110m to pounds 90m.

Commenting on the company's poor run, chairman Jonathan Taylor said: "1997 has been a difficult year for Booker. The board is now implementing a strategic review to ensure that shareholder value is significantly improved as we go forward."

The full year to December 1997 showed a fall in profits from pounds 92.7m to pounds 76.1m. This was due to a profits shortfall in the fourth quarter at the cash and carry operations. Problems included the failure of a supplier's computer system, the timing of the increase in tobacco duty and unforeseen changes in the sales mix at the former Nurdin branches.

PROMOTED VIDEO
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
Lane Del Rey performing on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2014
people... but none of them helped me get a record deal, insists Lana Del Rey
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Arts and Entertainment
Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson stars in Hercules
filmReview: The Rock is a muscular Davy Crockett in this preposterous film, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
British author Howard Jacobson has been long-listed for the Man Booker Prize
books
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmA cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Sport
Louis van Gaal watches over Nani
transfers
Arts and Entertainment
Flora Spencer-Longhurst as Lavinia, William Houston as Titus Andronicus and Dyfan Dwyfor as Lucius
theatreThe Shakespeare play that proved too much for more than 100 people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Cost Reporting-MI Packs-Edinburgh-Bank-£350/day

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Cost Reporting Manager - MI Packs -...

Insight Analyst – Permanent – Up to £40k – North London

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum plus 23 days holiday and pension scheme: Clearwater ...

Test Lead - London - Investment Banking

£475 - £525 per day: Orgtel: Test Lead, London, Investment Banking, Technical ...

Business Analyst - Banking - Scotland - £380-£480

£380 - £480 per day: Orgtel: Business Analyst - Banking - Edinburgh - £380 - ...

Day In a Page

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy': A land of the outright bizarre

Noel Fielding's 'Luxury Comedy'

A land of the outright bizarre
What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

What are the worst 'Word Crimes'?

‘Weird Al’ Yankovic's latest video is an ode to good grammar. But what do The Independent’s experts think he’s missed out?
Can Secret Cinema sell 80,000 'Back to the Future' tickets?

The worst kept secret in cinema

A cult movie event aims to immerse audiences of 80,000 in ‘Back to the Future’. But has it lost its magic?
Facebook: The new hatched, matched and dispatched

The new hatched, matched and dispatched

Family events used to be marked in the personal columns. But now Facebook has usurped the ‘Births, Deaths and Marriages’ announcements
Why do we have blood types?

Are you my type?

All of us have one but probably never wondered why. Yet even now, a century after blood types were discovered, it’s a matter of debate what they’re for
Honesty box hotels: You decide how much you pay

Honesty box hotels

Five hotels in Paris now allow guests to pay only what they think their stay was worth. It seems fraught with financial risk, but the honesty policy has its benefit
Commonwealth Games 2014: Why weight of pressure rests easy on Michael Jamieson’s shoulders

Michael Jamieson: Why weight of pressure rests easy on his shoulders

The Scottish swimmer is ready for ‘the biggest race of my life’ at the Commonwealth Games
Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn