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Retail: B&M to join Poundland, Pets at Home and Card Factory in joining the London Stock Market

11:32 22 May 2014

B&M is planning a stock market flotation.

B&M is planning a stock market flotation.

Discount general merchandise chain B&M today unveiled plans to join the growing ranks of retailers listing on the London Stock Market.

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B&M, which has 373 UK stores and also trades in Germany under the Jawoll and Hafu fascias, has grown its annual revenues by 29% to £1.272billion over the past two years and its earnings by 39% to £130million.

It says that the initial public offering of shares (IPO) will position the group for its next phase of development by providing “an appropriate long-term ownership structure” to help it pursue opportunities for further growth in the UK and continental Europe.

B&M chairman Sir Terry Leahy, the former chief executive of Tesco, said: “B&M is a first-class business operating in a genuinely exciting segment of the retail market, driven by a founder-led, ambitious and entrepreneurial management team. The business has delivered impressive growth as a private company, but there is much more to come.

“I believe B&M has a bright future and that its listing on the London Stock Exchange will position the company for its next stage of development.”

B&M’s UK store network includes two branches in Ipswich and others at Stanway, near Colchester, Harwich and Lowestoft.

The company is currently involved in a wrangle with Ipswich Borough Council over its store on the Ransomes Euro Retail Park which does not currently have planning permission for the sale of “non-bulky” goods, which accounts for much of its stock.

Earlier this week, B&M formally withdraw an application to have the restriction lifted, which could ultimately lead to the borough council taking enforcement action.

However, “Big Four” grocer Morrisons has applied to convert half of the B&Q store at the other end of the retail park into a supermarket and if consent for this is granted B&M could make a fresh application, with its hand strengthened by a claim to be operating on the same basis as Morrisons.

There is also speculation that B&M could be planning a third outlet in Ipswich, in the former Comet store on the Anglia Retail Park off Bury Road, although the company has declined to comment on this.

Retailers including Pets at Home, Poundland and Card Factory have already floated on the stock market in recent weeks, although fashion chain FatFace yesterday shelved plans to follow suit, in a sign that the City’s appetite for new listings may be starting to cool.

Card Factory’s shares have been trading below their launch price in recent days and holidays-to-insurance firm Saga has cut the target price on its planned flotation, in a bid to ensure a positive aftermarket performance.

However, Saga said demand from retail investors had been “exceptional” while FatFace said its decision to pull its offer had been taken despite strong interest from institutional investors.

And B&M was joined in unveiling flotation plans today by online property search firm Zoopla.

Daily Mail & General Trust, which currently owns 52.6% of Zoopla, is expected to reduce its stake but is likely to remain Zoopla’s largest shareholder.

Zoopla chief executive Alex Chesterman said: “I am very proud of what the team has achieved to date and we are incredibly excited about the opportunities ahead to continue to grow our brands and business.”

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