Booths has reported a dip in pre-tax profit as it heads for a record 12 months of new store openings.
The Preston-based food and wine retailer recorded a fall in pre-tax profit to £1.63m in the year to the end of March 2015, compared to £3.94m the year before. Sales were flat at £280.7m from £282.m in 2014.
Booths described the results as “solid…against the backdrop of a tumultuous grocery market.”
A spokesman added that sales were “held back by food deflation and a highly competitive retail market.”
In December 2014, Booths opened a new store in Barrowford, Lancashire, and by the end of 2015 will have opened a further four stores, marking the largest expansion programme in the group’s history. The new stores in the current financial year are Hale Barns, Burscough, St Anne’s and Poulton.
Next financial year, no new store openings are planned but existing stores will be refurbished.
Booths also made significant financial investments in a “Fair Milk” scheme in May 2014, vowing to pay the highest farm gate price in the market to farmers supplying Booths. All own label milk was rebranded as “Fair Milk”, and the scheme was praised by the farming industry and MPs in Westminster. The retailer is looking to further the “Fair Milk” scheme to wider dairy markets such as cream and cheese, strengthening support for farmers and producers they see as key to their business.
Chris Dee, chief executive, said: “In a highly charged retail market Booths has stayed true to their roots by undertaking fair practice with suppliers. Our suppliers are vital to the continued success of Booths and we remain committed to supporting small scale artisan producers and farmers. Because our stores are often located in rural areas, our farmers are often our customers as well as suppliers and supporting them in challenging times is part of the Booths DNA.
“Longevity in business requires investment in strong relationships with suppliers and new markets. With the addition of 5 new stores to Booths estate, an exceptional “Great Northern Christmas” offer, available nationwide, and a significantly increased own label range, Booths can look forward to a bright future.
“Selling top quality produce served by first class assistants was the aim of the first Edwin Booth; that 1847 formula still works for us in increasingly competitive markets. I have every confidence that our value, quality, provenance and service will sustain Booths in the current retail climate.”