Booths raises £4.5m cash injection through Ulverston site deal
SUPERMARKET retailer Booths has signed a deal to raise £4.5m by disposing of a long leasehold interest in its Ulverston store, The Mail can reveal.
The £4.5m ground rent deal, which involves Booths signing a long lease for its Ulverston site and retaining the freehold has been described as a "money raising exercise" by one Cumbria-based property expert.
A spokeswoman for Booths insisted the deal would have no effect on the supermarket or the staff.
They added: “Booths remain committed to the Ulverston store and retain the freehold of this property.
"Booths will continue to deliver the best service, products and value to our customers in the region.
"Two of our great staff from the Ulverston store starred on the ONE SHOW on Wednesday night, and we’re very proud of the fantastic community spirit in the area and we’ll continue to deliver the best food and drink to our customers this Christmas and beyond.”
The deal comes after Booths' senior lenders, the Royal Bank of Scotland and HSBC, instructed accountants Grant Thornton to undertake an Independent Bank Review.
An IBR can often lead to the owners of a company having to make a one-off cash injection to retain independence or the banks eventually taking control.
Edwin Booth, executive chairman and chief executive, said at the time: “Booths is a resilient 170-year family owned retailer with strong brand loyalty and leadership in place. These are turbulent times for the retail industry, which is rife with conjecture and speculation.
"We have an effective plan and team in place to ensure Booths remains a much-loved retailer for our customers here in the North. We’re focusing on delivering the best service, products and value to our customers.”
The chain, which has 31 shops around the North West including stores in Ulverston, Windermere and Kendal, made a £6.3m loss in 2016 compared to a £1.1m profit the previous year.
Edwin Booth, a fifth generation family member, has taken on the dual role of chairman and chief executive after Chris Dee, the previous chief executive, left abruptly in May following 22 years of service.
A layer of senior management has been removed, which resulted in £1.6m of one-off costs but is expected to save £2.6m a year.
The changes led to 100 job losses, although new openings in Barrowford and Hale Barns are said to have created around 400 new full and part-time positions.