B&M sales climb by over a fifth from pre-Covid levels despite post-lockdown dip

Sales at discount chain B&M fell as the business faced tough comparisons with strong trade during lockdowns a year ago when it remained open as an “essential” retailer.

In the UK, like-for-like sales fell 4.4 per cent in the 13 weeks to June 26 – although revenues were up 21.3 per cent up on a two-year, pre-pandemic comparison. The firm has faced greater competition with the reopening of non-essential retail from the middle of April in England and April 26 in Scotland

Stronger sales in B&M’s French business and the opening of new stores in the UK helped total revenues rise 3.1 per cent to just under £1.2 billion.

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Seven B&M stores were opened in the period, with four closing, the company noted.

B&M has become a familiar sight on UK high streets and retail parks. Picture: Nick Potts/PA WireB&M has become a familiar sight on UK high streets and retail parks. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire
B&M has become a familiar sight on UK high streets and retail parks. Picture: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Chief executive Simon Arora said: “The group has made a strong start to the new financial year and sales remain significantly above pre-pandemic levels.

“As expected, trading throughout the first quarter was volatile as we annualised against the high comparatives from last year.

“Although there remains much uncertainty as to how consumer spending evolves over the coming months, we remain optimistic that our combination of exceptional value across a wide range of product categories and our convenient out-of-town locations will continue to resonate with customers.”

In France, the firm’s Babou stores increased sales to £68.5 million compared with £54m in the same period a year ago. Sales in B&M’s Heron Foods division fell from £113m to £101.7m.

During the 13-week period under review, gardening demand was boosted during the warm weather; however, this fell back as cooler temperatures hit the UK.

Eleonora Dani, an analyst at brokerage Shore Capital, noted: “This is a resilient trading quarter against challenging comparisons, as B&M has reinforced its appeal to low- and middle-income families thanks to its strong value credentials in home, DIY and gardening, on top of the already established ones in grocery.

“The strategy appears to leverage a store portfolio rollout, but we note that product category expansion could also be an option to drive growth.

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“We see the business as a well-managed company with sound cash generation, tight stock and cost controls.”

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