15 January 1999
Booker plans further sell-off

BOOKER, the food group, which last year admitted breaching banking covenants, is to sell its Foodservice caterer supply business.

The group, which has facilities to cover £600 million in debt, is struggling and the extent of its liabilities varies with trading.

Booker chief executive Stuart Rose denied that Foodservice was being sold solely to cut debt, saying that the subsidiary failed to fit in with his plans.

The sale is the first to be ordered by Mr Rose, but comes after decisions to sell peripheral businesses in food manufacturing.

The sales will leave Booker solely as a cash-and-carry wholesaler.]

Foodservice could fetch about £100m on the back of 1997 operating profits totalling £12.1m achieved on a turnover of £900m.

Mr Rose said negotiations to sell Arbor Acres, the US chicken breeding business, were “advanced”.