Discount retail giant B&M, operating from its south Liverpool base, said sales fell from March to June this year compared to 2020 but were still significantly higher than before the pandemic. Tony McDonough reports
Value retailer B&M saw like-for-like sales fall by 4.4% in the first quarter of its fiscal year when compared to soaring sales in the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.
However, in a trading update on Thursday morning, Liverpool-based B&M says its sales for the 13 weeks to June 26 were still more than 21% ahead of pre-pandemic trading for the same period in 2019, before the pandemic.
During the pandemic, B&M has become the “go-to” retailer in the UK with sales in the 12 months to March 27 this year up 25% to £4.8bn, profits more than doubling and 7,200 new jobs created. Chief executive Simon Arora described as an “exceptional” year.
Based in Speke in South Liverpool, B&M operates 1,091 value retail stores in the UK and France under the B&M, Heron Foods and Babou brands. Total number of outlets increased by 41 over the past year, the majority of which were 25 B&M stores in the UK.
In the latest update, B&M said trading patterns were “volatile” throughout the latest quarter. Demand for gardening products began rising in the previous quarter and continued to do so in the latest quarter.
Heron Foods delivered a “satisfactory” performance against the very strong comparatives of 2020. In France, revenues increased by 26.9%, with Q1 both this year and in the prior year being impacted by six weeks of varying lockdown restrictions
While it continues to be too early to accurately predict likely revenue and profitability outcomes, the group says it is on track with its plans for the year.
Mr Arora said: “The group has made a strong start to the new financial year and sales remain significantly above pre-pandemic levels. As expected, trading throughout the first quarter was volatile as we annualised against the high comparatives from last year.
“Although there remains much uncertainty as to how consumer spending evolves over the coming months, we remain optimistic that our combination of exceptional value across a wide range of product categories and our convenient out of town locations will continue to resonate with customers.”