The discount retailer has weathered the coronavirus crisis well, according to chief executive Simon Arora.
B&M has revealed strong results for the 52 weeks to 28th March, with group revenue up 16.5% to £3.81b and pre-tax profits of £252m, an increase of 3.2%. UK B&M store fascia increased by 12.6%, 6.6% of which came in Q4.
The results indicate progress within B&Ms French operations, with 19 of a total 101 Babou stores – the French discount chain acquired in 2018 for £80.34m – now trading as B&M. It’s been reported that there have been 36 net new B&M UK fascia store openings in the period (51 gross); a further 30 net new store openings are planned for the current fiscal year.
The coronavirus has impacted the business, temporarily halting the controlled performance testing of converted Babou stores and slowing the rate of new UK openings, but the group has said its overall long term target of at least 950 B&M stores in the UK remains unchanged. Trading since the end of the fiscal year has been strong, the company states, allowing it to deliver some £1m in cash donations to foodbanks and offer nearly £3m in discounts to NHS workers. Additionally, store and distribution colleagues received 110% of their normal pay to ‘reflect their increased responsibilities and workload’.
In a statement, chief executive Simon Arora said: “In this last financial year our core B&M UK business delivered solid growth, as did our Heron Foods convenience store business. However, 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.”
He added: “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.”