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Booker sells food services for pounds 125m

BOOKER, THE debt-laden cash & carry group, has agreed to sell its food service operations to a South African group, Bidvest, for pounds 124.7m. Booker will book a pounds 50.5m loss on the deal and there will be an exceptional charge of pounds 98m to the accounts in the current year to cover a goodwill write-off, writes Nigel Cope.

Booker shares rose 6.5p to86p on the disposal which marks a significant step in the attempts by chief executive Stuart Rose to sell non-core businesses to cut debt.

Booker's debts will stand at around pounds 450m after the sale of the division, which recorded profits of pounds 12m on sales of pounds 884.9m last year. The deal is Bidvest's first move into the UK.