New B&M CEO takes over seven months early

New chief executive of Liverpool value retail giant B&M will take over from the retiring Simon Arora this month – seven months earlier than planned. Tony McDonough reports

Alex Russo
Alex Russo will become chief executive of B&M on September 26


Alex Russo will take over as chief executive of Liverpool value retail giant B&M on September 26 – replacing the returning Simon Arora seven months earlier than planned.

Mr Russo, currently chief financial officer of the group, was unveiled as Mr Arora’s successor in May when the company revealed its annual results. 

Mr Arora announced he was stepping down in April, although his brother Bobby will remain with the business. B&M began with a single store in Blackpool in 1976. It was operating 20 UK stores and was still Blackpool-based when the Arora brothers acquired it in 2005. At that point it had a turnover of £65m.

Over the next 17 years they transformed the business. They relocated it to a purpose-built headquarters and distribution centre at Estuary Business Park in Speke with the help of grant and relocation costs from Liverpool City Council. Today B&M has annual sales of almost £5bn and operates 1,119 stores in the UK and France.

When Mr Russo takes over this month Mr Arora will retire as CEO but continue to serve the board as an executive director. He will step down from this role at the end of his notice period in April 2023.

Mike Schmidt, who was previously announced as the successor to Mr Russo as chief financial officer, will join the business on October 17. Mr Russo will retain responsibility for his current role until that date. He will be supported by group financial controller Peter Waterhouse.


Simon Arora, B&M, BandM
Simon Arora, retiring chief executive of Liverpool retailer B&M


When he announced his departure, Mr Arora said: “It has been a privilege to lead B&M for 17 years. I am immensely proud of the incredible journey that we have been on. B&M’s value for money proposition remains as relevant and compelling to shoppers today as it has ever been.”

Mr Russo offers considerable experience across the grocery, general merchandise and discount retail sectors both in the UK and internationally. This has included senior leadership positions at retailers such as Asda, Tesco plc and Kingfisher. He joined B&M in October 2020. He will be paid a basic annual salary of £800,000.

““t is a privilege to have the opportunity to build on Simon’s legacy and lead this fantastic business in the years ahead,” he said. “We have a well-founded strategy, a very strong customer proposition and significant opportunities for further growth ahead of us.”

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