B&M repays furlough cash as sales hit £2.2bn

Based in Liverpool, B&M operates 1,059 stores in the UK and France and its latest trading update reveals rocketing revenues and profits and 1,800 new jobs. Tony McDonough reports

B&M, B and M, retail, store
A B&M retail outlet in Birkenhead. Picture by Tony McDonough


Liverpool-based retail giant B&M has created 1,800 new jobs over the past six months and rocketing revenues has seen it repay £3.7m in furlough cash to the Government.

B&M operates 1,059 stores in the UK and France under the B&M (657 stores), Heron (299) and Babou (103) brands. In its latest update to the Stock Exchange, B&M said revenues soared 25.3% to more than £2.2bn in the 26 weeks to September 26.

Group-adjusted pre-tax profits increased by 128.5% to almost £253.6m. At the height of the COVID-19 crisis, B&M, which has its head office and main distribution centre in south Liverpool, temporarily closed a number of stores and furloughed staff. It claimed £3.7m from the Government’s furlough scheme and this has now been repaid.

The company opened nine new B&M stores during the half year which offset eight closures in the first half of the year. During the current financial year it is on track to open 40 to 45 new B&M outlets across the UK.

It said Heron Foods had continued to trade well and opened seven new stores with one closure, and is on track to open 20 new stores, 16 net of closures, this financial year.

It saw positive like-for-like sales growth at Babou in France since re-opening on May 11, with total revenue of £140.6m and adjusted EBITDA5 of £2.7m, despite being closed due to lockdown for the first six weeks.  Approximately half of the Babou stores remain open, but are restricted to selling essential goods only during the November lockdown in France.

B&M chief executive,  Simon Arora, said: “The group delivered a strong performance in the first half, with our business model proving well-attuned to the evolving needs of customers.

“During such challenging times, we have been proud to play an active role in supporting the communities in which we operate, having created more than 1,800 new jobs across the group during the past six months in addition to repaying the £3.7m furlough support originally received during the height of the crisis.

“I am proud of the way in which our colleagues have risen to the many challenges posed by COVID-19.  I thank them for the commitment, hard work and resilience they have demonstrated in keeping our shelves filled and maintaining an environment which is as safe as possible for our colleagues and customers.”

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