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Discount Retailer B&M Posts Strong Start To The Year

Discount retailer B&M European Value Retail has posted a 22.7% increase in like-for-like revenues in the first eight weeks of its financial year, across its UK retail estate.

The group said in a statement that like-for-like sales growth had accelerated from 6.6% in the final quarter of its 2019-20 year, which benefited from a strong March performance in grocery.

Sales Drivers

It said customers had been coming to its stores much less frequently through the coronavirus lockdown but their average spend had been much higher than normal.

Among the products most sought, the retailer said, were DIY and gardening products, with the retailer benefiting from the closure of most traditional DIY and gardening retailers.

The business was, however, experiencing higher than normal operating costs in distribution and stores due to the implementation of social distancing measures as well as higher wage costs during the crisis.

It also cautioned that it had seen a significant 'bring-forward' of demand in some key categories, with the UK's recent warm weather a major factor.

It said that 49 stores in the UK that had previously been temporarily closed were now open for business again, while in France, all its B&M and Babou stores were closed from 15 March, with all but two reopening on 11 May.

The group also saw a 'strong performance' from its Heron Foods business in both the fourth quarter and at the start of the new financial year.

'Doing Its Bit'

"B&M is doing its bit in terms of keeping our customers supplied with the things they need week-in, week out during this period of enormous disruption to the normal operation of the business," commented chief executive Simon Arora.

"We have seen a significant bring-forward of demand in some key categories and the remarkably warm Spring weather in the UK has been a major factor behind this during recent weeks. We are not expecting this current level of trading to continue as normal shopping patterns resume.

"Clearly, there is also considerable uncertainty in relation to both the progression of COVID-19 and the economic outlook and it is therefore hard to predict future trading levels."

Shares in B&M were trading up 4% in early deals at 385 pence, valuing the business at £3.85 billion.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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