Simon English: Happy days may be back again at Makro

Outlook In the 1980s a trip to Makro was as much a part of late childhood as sherbert dib dabs or listening to The Jam and possibly even more exciting. The appeal was the chance to acquire the biggest tins of baked beans and bottles of tomato ketchup that ever existed. They would sit in the garage and never be opened, but they conferred bragging rights. You should see the size of my marmalade. And there were loads of really cheap clothes, including socks with a Spiderman motif that were sold in packs of 15.

It was a brilliant shop.

The process of acquiring a card to allow entry to a store supposedly only for corner shops or other small businesses was mysterious. And possibly illegal. Hushed phone calls occurred. Meetings in pubs followed.

Some families were blessed, is all we knew, and others just had to go to Asda.

So it's a considerable emotional relief to see that this business has been saved for the nation by Charles Wilson of Booker.

By the admission of the German parent group, Metro, Makro UK was struggling. And the Germans were unlikely to be sentimental about the 30 stores, which are mostly in those industrial wastelands that had such gigantic car parks your Dad would sometimes let you take the wheel of the Hillman Imp for a bit (wipes tear from eye).

Mr Wilson's deal to take over the business looks toppy on the face of it – £140m? For Makro? But it got a warm welcome from the market yesterday which sent Booker shares soaring.

Mr Wilson's record here is good – Booker itself was a mess when he arrived. Makro management can expect a shake-up (or a ship out).

Mr Wilson will strive to attract new customers from the catering trade. And he won't ask too many questions about the old ones, we hope.

s.english@independent.co.uk

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