Liverpool-based value retailer says the closures are to comply with social distancing and B&M is also donating £1m of food and toiletries to UK food banks. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool-based discount retail giant B&M is closing 49 of its smaller stores as it looks to comply with with Government coronavirus social distancing measures.
And the Speke-based chain, which operates 656 stores across the UK, also said to was raising the pay of all its store and warehoused-based employees by 10% to reflect the extra workloads being undertaken during the COVID-19 outbreak.
In addition, it will extend its staff discount scheme to NHS workers and donate £1m of food and toiletries to food banks across the country.
B&M, which also trades from a further 293 Heron stores, said it had “reluctantly” taken the decision to temporarily close the 49 outlets to ensure the safety of both staff and customers. In a statement to the Stock Exchange, it said: “Our first priority has been to protect and support our customers and colleagues.
“We have implemented Government advice regarding social distancing across our business.We have reluctantly decided to temporarily close 49 B&M UK stores in light of current trading conditions affecting those locations.
“These are typically small format stores and in some cases are located within shopping centres that have largely ceased trading. Some 42 of the 49 stores are close to other larger B&M stores. We will review the trading patterns on an on-going basis and intend to re-open those stores as soon as normal shopping patterns resume.”
Workers at the affected stores in the UK have been furloughed under the Government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme which means they will continue to receive 80% of their current wages.
B&M, which has an annual turnover of around £3.5bn, also said it was “grateful to our committed and hard-working colleagues for their remarkable effort and dedication in our stores and supply chain functions” during the coronavirus crisis.
It added: “To reward our store and distribution colleagues the UK business is now paying 10% enhancement to pay rates to reflect the additional workload that the guidelines impose. We have extended our B&M staff discount scheme to all NHS workers, and are donating £1m worth of food and toiletries to food banks across the UK.”
The company said all its Heron stores would continue to trade but its 101 stores in France under the Babou and B&M brands are currently closed under the Government restrictions in force there. B&M completed the sale of its loss-making German business last week.