Call for a boycott of Booker

25 July, 2008

Retailer says he's losing sales as regulars shop at the cash and carry instead

An off-licence owner with stores in Kent and East Sussex is calling on his fellow traders to boycott Booker because he says the cash and carry is effectively opening its doors to members of the public.

Charlie Patel, who runs the Cask & Glass in Tonbridge and the Wine Shop in Hastings, feels Booker should not be allowing tradespeople

such as estate agents, builders and electricians to buy food and drink at wholesale prices.

He said: "In the Tunbridge Wells branch - maybe all Booker branches - they are now opening an account for anyone who is in business.

"I see at least three times a week in my local Booker people who were at one time my regular customers. I sell real ale in bottles and do case deals on lager, and a few customers are saying that they can buy cheaper in Booker. But how the hell do they know that?

"At weekends or on Friday afternoons you will find out that there are lots of customers with small trolleys,

buying one bottle of spirit and maybe a case of cider or lager."

Patel said it was "embarrassing" to bump into his customers in a cash and carry. He added: "I think Booker is becoming like Makro, but it should keep in mind that if it starts selling goods to end consumers in little quantities, its small customers will start going down. Then who is Booker going to sell to?"

Patel said he has now switched to delivered wholesalers and only uses Booker for tobacco and last-minute purchases, and urged others to do the same.

A Booker spokeman said: "We are sorry to hear of the customer's concerns, however our policy has not changed.

"To register with Booker you must be a caterer, retailer, other business, charity or organisation. Every new registration needs to show two proofs of business such as a business invoice, utility bill, rental agreement or bank statement.

"As a company, Booker serves over 270,000 caterers and small businesses, many of whom do buy individual bottles of vodka and Champagne for their catering premises. The customer satisfaction has improved at Tunbridge Wells and we are happy to address any individual customer concerns."

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