Discount retailer B&M to create 2,500 new jobs

A B&M store which occupies a former Woolworth's branch.

A B&M store which occupies a former Woolworth's branch. - Credit: PA

Discount retailer B&M is to create 2,500 new jobs in its current financial year after highlighting “good momentum” in sales and profits today.

The chain, which was set up in 1978 and is now among the UK’s biggest retailers after opening its 400th store last month, believes it has the opportunity to more than double in size to an estate of 850 UK shops.

Seen as a modern-day Woolworths, Liverpool-based B&M has boosted its fortunes in recent years by branching out into clothes, pet food and toiletries, as well as through the opening of stores away from its northern heartland.

In its first set of results since joining the London stock market in the summer, revenues increased by 29.7% to £739.8million in the six months to September 27, while on a like-for-like basis the UK sales figure rose 4.8%.

Underlying earnings lifted 34% to £73m but higher costs linked to the flotation and a recent refinancing caused a bottom-line loss of £16.4m.

Former Tesco chief executive Sir Terry Leahy, who is the company’s chairman, said there was scope for the business to at least double in size in the UK over the next few years.

He added: “B&M has delivered good momentum in sales, profits and cash generation during the first half.”

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The company, which has more than 16,000 staff, expects to complete the net addition of at least 50 shops in the current financial year to the end of March.

It said the UK retail property market was “highly favourable” as national retailers look to “rightsize” their estates and the improved economic picture encourages letting opportunities with developers on newly constructed space.

B&M recently acquired an 80% stake in Jawoll, a variety goods retailer based in north west Germany with 49 stores.

Chief executive Simon Arora said: “The retail environment in both the UK and German markets remains highly competitive.

“However, our disruptive business model, and the value for money we offer our shoppers, gives the board confidence that B&M can continue its successful track record of growth.”

Manchester-based brothers Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora, who bought the chain in 2004, got another payday from the flotation, having already received an estimated £900mn when they sold a controlling stake to private equity firm Clayton, Dubilier & Rice (CD&R) in December 2012.

Selling shareholders, including the Aroras and funds managed by CD&R, pocketed about £1billion in the flotation, while the company itself received £75m.