B&M chief Simon Arora outlines growth strategy

THE boss of discount retailer B&M says the potential for growth in the UK and Europe is “huge”.

Simon Arora, a former investment banker who acquired the business in 2004 with his brother Bobby, said the planned flotation of the company was a “proud day” for him and the 16,000 staff it employs.

“It is a milestone for us, B&M has come from relatively humble beginnings and we believe we are now of an appropriate size to become a public listed company.

“We are now a £1.2bn turnover company and that should fill us all with pride.”

Currently it trades out of 373 stores, and will continue to open new stores at a rate of 40 a year, with capacity to get to 850 UK stores – currently 66% of the population is not in easy reach of one of its shops.

Mr Arora said B&M was modelled on the growth of Dollar General, which the the biggest retailer by store numbers in the US.

B&M’s new board includes Kathleen Guion, previously division president and executive vice president of Dollar General from 2003 to 2011.

“Dollar General is not a business I think many Brits will have come across – they are not in Manhattan, or South Beach, but in suburban places where people live. In the same way, you won’t find a B&M on Market Street in Manchester or in Dollar GeneralLiverpool One or on Oxford Street.

“Dollar General is an incredible success story, a phenomenal business offering a value-led proposition across a broad range of categories.

“It puts into context what we want to achieve.It has more than 11,000 stores with revenues of over $17bn.”

The business has recently made its first move into Europe with the acquisition of an 80% stake in Ja Wool a discount retailer with 49 stores currently, and which Mr Arora said bears many similarities with B&M here.

“It is based in north west Germany and is growing and has ambitions to become a national player.”

The IPO is expected to value B&M – which has grown revenues by nearly 30% over the last two years – at more than £2bn. This would mean another major payday for the Aroras, who sold 60% of the company to US investor Clayton, Dubilier & Rice in late 2012.

In the intention to float document Simon and Bobby, who is B&M’s trading director, intend to retain the majority of their shareholdings and will continue to lead the business.