Liverpool retailer sees sales surge to £3.8bn

From its Speke base B&M operates 1,050 stores across the UK and France and is reporting a healthy rise in sales and profits with expansion plans still on track. Tony McDonough reports

Head office of retailer B&M in Speke, Liverpool


Liverpool-based value retail giant B&M is reporting a 16.5% surge in annual sales to more than £3.8bn with pre-tax profits also showing a rise.

From its operations base in Speke, B&M European retail operates 1.050 stores in the UK and in France. In the 12 months to March 28, 2020, the company saw pre-tax profits rise to £252m from £244.3m last year.

During the year the company increased the number of B&M stores by 36 to 656. Its Heron Foods brand, also in the UK, rose by 12 to 293, and its Babou outlets in France also increased by five to 101. In March it sold its loss-making Jawoll retail chain in Germany.

Sales were up across all its brands. B&M sales rose 12.6% to £3.14bn, Heron saw a 10% rise to £389.9m while Babou enjoyed a spectacular surge in sales of almost 120% to £283.4m.

The business plans to open a further 30 new B&M stores in the UK during the current financial years. The rate of new openings is impacted by disruption from COVID-19 but its overall long term target of at least 950 B&M stores in the UK remains unchanged.

In France 19 Babou stores out of a total estate of 101 stores, are now trading as B&M but the controlled testing of the performance of the converted stores was subsequently interrupted by the eight-week week COVID-19 closure period from March 15 to May 11.

Since March, B&M has delivered £1m in cash donations to foodbanks and given £2.9m of discounts to NHS workers. Store and distribution workers received 110% of normal pay to reflect their increased responsibilities and workload.

B&M chief executive, Simon Arora, said: “So much about our lives has changed so profoundly and so fast as a result of COVID-19 that a financial year which ended only a short time ago already seems a world away.

“It is an understatement to say that the progress made during the year has been overtaken by recent events. The challenges posed by the virus have been beyond anything we have experienced before.

“They have tested every aspect of the way we do business in recent weeks and I’m pleased to say that B&M is coming through the crisis well because of the strength of the B&M proposition and the way our team has responded to those challenges. For that, I express my gratitude to all of my colleagues across the business.

Looking ahead, there are of course many uncertainties for the economy, consumers and not least for the retail industry. We will all be living with the consequences of the virus and the public health responses to it for a long time to come.

“I am however confident though that B&M with its modern network of mostly out-of-town stores, well-invested infrastructure and value-led variety offer is well positioned to support the communities in which we trade for whatever lies ahead. The health and safety of our colleagues and customers will remain a priority.”

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