B&M upbeat despite fall in like-for-like sales

Simon Arora
X The Business Desk

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FAST-expanding discount retailer B&M Bargains has reported 23.5% growth in revenues to £647.8m for the 13 weeks to Boxing Day, but said this had been delivered from new stores.

The Liverpool-based group said its like-for-like sales in the period fell 0.7% as it blamed challenging trading conditions caused by both the mild weather and operational challenges of getting two new warehouses up and running.

It told investors: “This performance reflects our successful store opening programme, as well as the combination of mild temperatures impacting the sales of cold weather products and the previously reported lower than normal service levels from our two new distribution centres. B&M enjoyed a strong Christmas trading period with positive LFL.”

After nine months of trading, B&M revenues, at constant currency, are up 25.4% to £1.58bn, with like-for-like growth of 0.4%

In Germany, B&M’s Jawoll chain reported saw an increase in its sales revenues in Euro of 7.8% in the quarter, although this translates to a decline of 2.1% to £33.3m on a sterling basis.

 At the end of the third quarter B&M was trading from a total of 487 UK stores, having opened 15 stores over the last 13 weeks and a net 62 in total during the year to date.

Chief executive Simon Arora said: “I’m delighted to report a record Christmas season for B&M, once again demonstrating the popularity of our model, despite a challenging trading period for the whole retailing industry in the UK.

“At our Christmas peak, we served over four million customers in a single week and we continue to gain market share. The business has delivered a resilient performance through peak trading despite the operational challenges of commissioning two large new distribution centres so late in the year.

 “Our German business Jawoll has also performed well and we are taking our first steps towards a faster pace of expansion with our distribution centre extension progressing well, and with our trial stores trading in line with our expectations.

“The move up to 10 new stores planned for 2016/17 is a significant step in our long-term strategy for growth. Overall we are on track with our plans for the year as a whole and remain comfortable with market expectations for the full year.”