Discount retail chain reports strong first quarter growth

Liverpool-based discount retail group B&M has made a strong start to the new fiscal year, it revealed in a first quarter trading update to June 27, today.

The group, based in Speke, South Liverpool, said total group revenues for the period were 27% better, at £1.154bn.

This included increased sales at its B&M UK operations and Heron Foods, although its French chain, Babou, saw a slide in revenues from £72.6m in the same quarter last year to £54m this year.

The B&M UK portfolio now has 656 stores trading, versus 632 at the end of the first quarter the previous year, with no new stores opened in the quarter due to the impact of COVID-19

There was strong double digit like-for-like sales growth and two net new stores opened in the quarter by the value convenience store chain, Heron Foods, which continues to trade well on top of a good performance in the prior year.

The chain also announced a steady recovery in like-for-like customer count over the quarter after the initial decline during lockdown, alongside significantly increased average transaction value versus the prior year.

Chief executive, Simon Arora, said: “The group has made a strong start to the financial year, with a particularly strong performance in our UK businesses, and progress now resumed in France after an eight-week closure period.

“However, as outlined at our preliminary results for the last financial year announced on June 11, there are a great deal of uncertainties ahead.

“The safety of our colleagues and customers remains our priority whilst we work hard to continue to meet our customers’ needs in these difficult times.”

In this financial year the B&M UK business is expected to open at least 30 net new stores and Heron Foods to open at least 15 net new stores. Both programmes will be loaded towards the back end of the financial year.

The B&M store format and product range will continue to be developed in France over the year ahead. Three more new stores will open this financial year in France, all under the B&M banner.

The group said that, against a highly uncertain economic backdrop and continued impacts from COVID-19, it is in a strong position to continue to grow profitably in the UK and work continues to develop and prove the proposition in France.