B&M posts first quarter growth despite subdued market

Bargain chain B&M has reported solid growth in the first quarter, despite tough competition from last year’s bumper summer.

Group revenue in the three months to June 29 was up 21.4%, with B&M UK climbing 13.8%.

Like-for-like growth in the core UK business was 3.9%, compared to 1.6% this time last year.

German business Jawoll also posted improved numbers, with revenue rising 1.9% to £63.1 million, while French division Babou reported revenue of £72.6 million.

Store openings continued apace, with six new Heron Foods stores and 12 B&M outlets in the UK.

Chief executive Simon Arora said: “B&M had its third consecutive record Easter trading period with sales of seasonal products and homewares performing particularly well and Heron Foods has traded solidly too.

“The transitional changes to the product offers in Jawoll and Babou are now taking shape, as we apply the B&M model to those businesses. We look forward to the remainder of the year with confidence.”

Retailers have been struggling to measure up to last year’s strong Easter and summer performances, when sporting events, a royal wedding and the hot weather all boosted sales.

But B&M said its performance had been “strong” and put it on track to deliver on its annual plans.

Analysts at Peel Hunt said: “This time last year (as nearly every retailer we speak to painfully points out), retail conditions were perfect with morale high given the lovely weather and the enjoyable World Cup. It has been more difficult this year but 3% underlying like-for-like growth at core B&M is a creditable showing.”

While some logistics problems persist at Jawoll, the company said this is expected to moderate towards the end of the year.

In France, the clearance of stock is ongoing to make way for ranges sourced within the B&M supply chain.