B&M unveils strong annual results and new non-exec chair

Tiffany Hall

Annual pre-tax profits and sales both improved at Liverpool-based out-of-town retailer, B&M, which also announced today (June 5) that THG non-exec director, Tiffany Hall, will become its new non-exec chair at its AGM on July 23, to replace Peter Bamford on his retirement.

B&M has also increased its store opening programme with a target of at least 1,200 B&M UK locations which it said makes it “well set for the years ahead”.

Group revenues for the year to March 30, 2024, rose by 10.1% to £5.84bn, and pre-tax profits jumped 14.1% to £498m.

The UK B&M brand achieved an 8.5% in its sales, B&M France drove turnover up by 19.6% compared with the previous year, while the Heron Foods division enjoyed a 15.3% improvement in turnover.

The group reported a strong post-tax free cash flow of £382m (FY23: £464m) with a disciplined approach to inventory management – group inventory of £776m (FY23: £764m).

During the reporting period the group opened 78 new stores, gross, including 47 in B&M UK, 20 in Heron Foods and 11 in B&M France.

The board has recommended a final dividend of 9.6p per ordinary share, bringing the full year dividend to 14.7p per share in addition to the 20.0p special dividend paid in January 2024 (FY23: 20.0p).

Chief executive, Alex Russo, said: “FY24 has been another good year for B&M.

“The three key components of our business – buying, logistics and retail, are working in balance and we continue to deliver excellent products at everyday low prices to our consumers. We are well set for the years ahead.”

He added: “During Q4, we accelerated our opening programme, and the step up in openings is continuing. In FY25, we will open not less than 45 gross new B&M stores in the UK, plus a meaningful number in France and for Heron.

“We have also raised our long term store target to not less than 1,200 B&M UK stores, which provides a clear runway of profitable growth ahead for us, from our current base of 741 B&M UK stores.

“We have demonstrated strong volume-led momentum in our business throughout our trading history and that has continued, driving our profits ahead of both pandemic and pre-pandemic benchmarks.

“Despite the more challenging comparatives, with continued new store openings, and a laser focus on low prices and best in class retail standards, we remain confident in our outlook for cash generation and profit growth.”

Senior independent director, Tiffany Hall, was tasked with finding a replacement for Peter Bamford when he announced his retirement in January this year.

B&M said today that, following an intensive search undertaken by the board, with the support of an external search firm, it has decided to appoint Ms Hall.

In addition to her role at B&M, she is also a non-executive director of Symington Family Estates SA. She was previously the senior independent director of Howdens Joinery Group and a non-executive director of the British Standards Institution and THG. She served as chief executive of BUPA Home Healthcare, marketing director at BUPA, and held senior commercial positions at British Airways as well as chair of Airmiles and BA Holidays.

She will be succeeded by Oliver Tant as B&M senior independent director, Hounaida Lasry as chair of the remuneration committee and Paula MacKenzie as designated non-executive director for workforce engagement.

She said: “Since joining the board in 2018, I have learnt that B&M is a fantastic business with a laser focus on delivering value to customers. The business is well positioned for future growth, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside our excellent leadership team.”

Chair, Peter Bamford, welcomed Tiffany’s appointment, saying: “I have enjoyed working with her over the last five years and she has demonstrated a clear understanding of B&M and the skills required to lead the board in the future. It has been a great privilege for me to have worked with two exceptionally talented CEOs leading a business with such a distinctive entrepreneurial culture focused on delivering great products and everyday low prices to its customers.”

Alex Russo said: “On behalf of everyone at B&M, I would like to thank Peter for chairing the group through some of the most uncertain times in recent history and overseeing the transition from the founding CEO to me. He has done this with an unerring view of what is right for all of our stakeholders and I wish to thank him on both a personal and professional basis. I wish him well for the future.

“Tiffany has a proven record of success in her role as senior independent director and demonstrated strong leadership in her role as chair of the remuneration committee over a number of years. We look forward to working more closely with her to drive the continued success of B&M.”

Russ Mould, investment director at Manchester investment platform, AJ Bell, said: “For all the negative talk about a washout year for retailers so far in 2024 and consumers being under the cosh from high interest rates, certain shopkeepers remain remarkably upbeat.

Russ Mould, AJ Bell

“B&M has reported results at the top end of guidance and is confident about the outlook. WH Smith is excited about its peak summer trading period and Zara-owned Inditex has delivered a bumper set of quarterly results.

“The combination of having a well-run business with a close eye on costs and efficiencies, together with offering products that customers deem to be good value for money or where there is limited competition, appears to be the magic formula for thriving in a sluggish market.

“B&M, WH Smith and Inditex are good representations of the retail sector as they target different parts of the market. Their achievements show the industry isn’t simply doing well in one or a handful of areas, success is more broad-based.”

He added: “B&M is pitched as being an affordable provider of general merchandise and appeals to individuals looking to get the most for their money. WH Smith exploits a captive audience, namely people who want something but cannot shop around as there are either few alternatives or they don’t have time if they are about to catch a plane or train. Inditex offers decent quality products aimed at the mass market.

“All three retailers have experienced pains in recent years but they’ve all come out of the other end smiling. However, that doesn’t mean life is going to be easy from now on.

“B&M’s results are notable for the lack of forward looking commentary beyond opening new stores, focusing on operations and keeping prices low. WH Smith’s North American growth has ground to a halt which is worrying. It has rejigged product choices on the shelf and says early results have been encouraging. And Inditex is spending big to expand its logistics capabilities so there is execution risk for this initiative.”