Liverpool discount retail giant B&M has raised its full-year profit forecasts to more than £600m and says it will pay a bonus to 24,000 staff after strong Christmas trading. Tony McDonough reports
Value retail giant B&M says it now expected full year-profits to be as high as £625m after strong trading in its so called ‘Golden Quarter’ in the run up to Christmas.
And the south Liverpool-based business also says it will pay an extra week’s wages as a bonus to more than 24,000 staff members at the end of January to thank them for their “considerable efforts” during the year.
In a trading up for 13 weeks to December 25, the third quarter of its financial year, B&M said that although sales were 6.2% lower than the same period last year they were 14% ahead of the third quarter in 2019, prior to the pandemic. Concerns over the COVID omicron variant may have hit sales in the last couple of weeks before Christmas.
From its head office and main distraction base in Speke, B&M operates 1,110 stores in the UK and France. This includes 693 B&M stores and 310 outlets of Frozen food chain Heron in the UK and 107 stores in France. The French chain was formerly known as Babou but now all but one has been rebranded as B&M.
During the third quarter, the company opened nine new UK B&M stores with two closures. It expects to open a further 13 stores before March 31 this year, the end of its financial year.
Before today, City analysts had forecast profits (EBITDA) for B&M of around £578m for the year to March 31, 2022. However, with sales continuing to remain strong at the group it has raised this forecast to between £605m and £625m.
In November, the company said it would pay a special dividend of 25p a share to its stock market investors, equating to approximately £250m in total. This is due to what it described as “continued strong performance versus pre-pandemic levels, with ongoing evaluation of its leverage and cash position”.
Chief executive Simon Arora said: “The Group has delivered a very strong Golden Quarter, with our two-year like-for-like performance demonstrating strong retention of new customers.
“Our decision to take receipt of imported Christmas stock early in the season meant we were able to provide customers with great products at great prices. The consistency of performance in the core B&M UK business reflects the growing appeal of our stores as a destination visit for seasonal products, as well as the strength of our supply chain.
“Although the pandemic continues to create challenges for retailers and consumers alike, our relentless focus on value-for-money remains undiminished. Despite ongoing supply chain disruption, inflationary pressures and uncertainty surrounding possible COVID-related restrictions, we remain confident in B&M’s prospects for 2022.”