Booker needs extra pounds 25m to close sites

Shares in Booker fell sharply yesterday after the food distribution company warned it would take a further pounds 25m charge to close some food distribution sites following last November's pounds 264m purchase of warehouse retailer Nurdin & Peacock.

The charge, which comes on top of pounds 52m already taken against the N&P acquisition, sent the shares 17.5p lower at 381.5p. In a trading statement Booker said N&P's sales over the Christmas period were 6 per cent lower than the previous year, though profits were slightly higher than expected.

Booker, the UK's largest cash and carry group, said group sales for the year rose 3 per cent on a like-for-like basis while sales over the Christmas period were slightly ahead of last year.

Booker plans to take the restructuring charge against its 1996 results because of rationalisation of N&P's depot system. The company said it had identified opportunities to use space at N&P depots for its foodservice business, allowing the rationalisation of Booker's network of Foodservice sites.