Ban on tobacco displays hits sales at Booker's Makro

The cash-and-carry giant Booker outlined the huge impact the display ban on tobacco and black market cigarettes are having on its new Makro division yesterday.

Like-for-like sales of tobacco at Makro crashed 20.8 per cent in the three months to the end of June compared with a year ago.

Booker's chief executive, Charles Wilson, bought the loss-making Makro last year and expects it to take three to five years to turn around.

Tobacco sales have always been a discretionary purchase at Makro, whose customers tend to be small businesses rather than corner shops, so it has been hit particularly hard by the display ban. At Booker, where tobacco is a much bigger part of its total revenues, like-for-like tobacco sales were off by only 2.5 per cent.

Mr Wilson has a big task at Makro. Booker sales grew 1 per cent compared with a 6 per cent fall in Makro, like-for-like figures showed.