Liverpool value retailer B&M announces huge expansion of UK and French retail networks as it looks to cash on increasing consumer demand for discount goods. Tony McDonough reports
Value retail giant B&M says it is now aiming to open hundreds of new stores over the next few years as it looks to capitalise on the trend towards discount retailing.
B&M, which is based in Speke in Liverpool and employs 39,000 people, operates more than 1,160 stores. This includes more than 700 UK B&M outlets and 119 B&M stores in France. It also runs 315 Heron frozen food stores in the UK.
Its original target for the UK B&M brand was 950 stores. However, it has now revised this up to 1,200. It aims to open 125 new B&M stores in the next three years alone. And it will also open more B&M stores in France where there is a similar trend towards value retail.
On Thursday, stock market-listed B&M published its financial results for the 26 weeks to September 23, 2023. They show an increase in sales compared to the same period in 2022 of more than £2.5bn. Pre-tax profits were up to £222m from £201m in 2022.
In the first few weeks of trading in the run up to Christmas, known by retailers as ‘the Golden Quarter’, B&M says sales in its UK B&M stores are already 1.6% ahead of last year.
Speaking about the company’s expansion plans, chief executive Alex Russo said: “The move by consumers to discounters is a major trend in many countries and is set to continue over the long term.
“In the UK and France, we are at the forefront of this trend. In the UK, we have a little over 2% market share and much less in France, meaning there are many more years of growth ahead.
“While market share gain is not an objective in itself, it is a consequence of what we are delivering to the consumer – a strong price-based offer, a relevant product range and excellence in store standards.”
Sales in UK B&M outlets during the half-year period came in at just over £2bn, 8.1% higher than the same period in 2022. French B&M stores saw sales rise 26.1% to £232m. At Heron sales were up 17% to £272m.
In early September B&M swooped in to acquire up 51 stores from administrators of the collapsed Wilko chain for £13m.
Mr Russo added: “The agreement to acquire up to 51 ex-Wilko stores is a significant step which underpins our opening programme. Over the next three years we expect to open not less than 125 new B&M stores in the UK, adding up to 20% to our sales area.
“I am delighted that many of our existing shareholders have been with us since our IPO and continue to see our long-term growth potential.
“We have the runway to at least double our size in the UK in the medium term, while France also offers sizeable long-term potential.”