Britain's biggest cash and carry wholesaler Booker reported higher third-quarter sales, as demand for its fresh fruits and vegetables drew more customers to its stores.

The firm, with over 170 branches supplying convenience stores, restaurants, pubs, schools and prisons, posted a 7 percent rise in total sales in the 16 weeks to December 30 and said average spend per customer improved during the quarter.

Booker said it also planned to launch a new distribution service in Didcot called 'Chef Direct' to cater to its food service customers. It is expected to start trading in June 2012.

The firm recently launched a new line of snacks, widened its drinks offering and introduced a new fruit and vegetables range.

On a like-for-like basis, total sales rose by 5.6 percent, with non-tobacco sales rising 5.8 percent and tobacco sales up 7.6 percent. Fruit and vegetable sales rose 17 percent.

Booker said its outlook for full-year profit and net cash remained in line with expectations.

Analysts, on an average, expect the company to report a full-year pretax profit of 82.5 million pounds on revenue of 3.82 billion pounds, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The firm, which started operations in India in 2009, said it would continue to expand in the country, with a second and third branch scheduled to open in Mumbai in early 2012.

Booker's shares, which have risen by more than a quarter of their value over the past year, closed at 74.9 pence on Wednesday on the London Stock Exchange, valuing the business at 1.18 billion pounds.

(Reporting by Anirban Sen in Bangalore; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)