A sales increase of 4% in the most recent quarter was revealed in a trading update from Booker Group, the cash and carry and delivered food wholesaler which also owns the Premier, Londis and Budgens brands.

Speaking at its AGM, chief executive Charles Wilson said: “Group sales rose by 4.0% on the same period last year with like for likes up 4.2%. Non tobacco sales grew by 9.6% on a like-for-like basis. Favourable weather and the late Easter assisted this growth.

“Tobacco sales continued to be adversely impacted by changes in tobacco legislation, down 7.9% like-for-like. The Group had a solid quarter for customer satisfaction and cash profit. Premier continues to grow and we continue to make good progress with Budgens and Londis.”

He added: “This was a good quarter. Our plans to Focus, Drive and Broaden the Group are on track. On 27 January we announced the planned merger with Tesco and we are going through the competition process. Meanwhile business as usual is going well as we continue to improve choice, prices and service for our retail, catering and small business customers.”

Steve Fox, managing director, Booker Group - Retail, said: “We have had a good start to the year, however we remain focused on helping our customers to improve choice, price and service. We are working hard to support them during the busy summer period to ensure that our availability is at its best.”