Liverpool value retail giant B&M has unveiled its new chief executive as it reports annual sales of £4.7bn and pre-tax profits of £524m. Tony McDonough reports
Liverpool-based retail chain B&M has announced that current chief financial officer Alex Russo will succeed Simon Arora as chief executive of the business.
It comes as the company, which has its headquarters and main distribution depot at Speke in south Liverpool, reports its annual results. In the year to March 26, 2022, B&M saw sales of £4.7bn and pre-tax profits of £524m.
Both figures were down, 2.7% and 3% respectively, on the previous year. But that year’s figures were skewed by the COVID-19 pandemic which saw a surge in sales at B&M stores across the country.
B&M operates 1,119 stores in the UK and France, employing 38,000 people. This includes 701 B&M stores and 311 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.
In its report the business said it was eventually aiming to operate at least 950 B&M stores. It added: “Based on the current estate of 701 stores, an estimated 38% of the UK population still live over three miles from a B&M store.
“As such, given the increased sales densities and broadening demographic appeal of B&M over the past two years, this long term target increasingly looks like a conservative estimate.”
On Tuesday B&M announced the appointment of current chief financial officer Alex Russo as the new chief executive. He will begin his role in April 2023 when the current CEO, Simon Arora, retires from the business.
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 Aroras 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.
Mr Russo has considerable relevant 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.
Mr Russo, who will be paid a basic annual salary of £800,000, said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to build on Simon’s legacy and lead this fantastic business in the years ahead. We have a well-founded strategy, a very strong customer proposition and significant opportunities for further growth ahead of us.
The B&M board will now consider the most appropriate handover plan. A process to recruit a successor to Mr Russo as chief financial officer has already begun. In the meantime, both will remain in their existing roles.
Mr Arora added: “I would like to thank all our colleagues and stakeholders for their support over the last 17 years. It has been an honour to lead B&M and together build such a large and popular retailer. I believe that Alex is uniquely well placed to continue B&M’s success and I will work hard to ensure a smooth transition.”