Booker Group plc is the United Kingdom's largest food wholesale operator, offering branded and private-label goods to over 400,000 customers including independent convenience stores, grocers, pubs and restaurants. The firm is listed on the London Stock Exchange and a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.
The Company was founded by George and Richard Booker in 1835 when they bought their first ship and established the Booker Line. It diversified into the distribution of goods rather than the mere shipping of them and gradually disposed of its fleet of ships: the focus was on food wholesale distribution and by 1978 the Company had over 100 warehouses across the UK.
In 2000 Booker was purchased by Iceland Supermarkets, via its Big Food Group vehicle. Then in 2005 Big Food Group was in turn bought by acquisitive Icelandic group Baugur, which split Booker and Iceland again into different companies. In June 2007 Booker reversed into AIM-listed wholesaler of groceries Blueheath, to form Booker Group plc.
Baugur sold all its assets in Booker Cash & Carry in June 2008 only weeks after its founder was found guilty of accounting irregularities. Baugur collapsed in February 2009 amidst the 2008—2010 Icelandic financial crisis.