B&M sees lockdown DIY, gardening sales up 23%

Shares of Liverpool-based bargain retailer B&M European Value Retail rose 6% on Friday after it issued a trading update for the fourth quarter of 2019-20 — the 13 weeks ended March 28, 2020 — and the first eight weeks of its 2020-21 financial year to May 23, 2020.

B&M said it enjoyed a strong end to fourth quarter trading driven by exceptionally strong March performance by its grocery, with B&M UK fascia like-for-like (LFL) revenues up 6.6%.

The retailer said it also saw strong revenue growth in the first eight weeks of the new financial year with B&M UK fascia LFL revenues up 22.7% “driven by exceptionally strong DIY and Gardening categories and despite a significant fall in customer count.”

Liverpool-based B&M is registered in Luxembourg but its shares trade in London, where its stock rose 6% on Friday to 391p to give the firm a stock market value of around £3.8 billion.

B&M CEO Simon Arora said: “We have encountered exceptionally strong demand in our UK business over recent weeks.

“Customers have been coming to our stores much less frequently through the lockdown but their average spend has been much higher than normal.

“I would like to thank them for their patience and consideration in observing social distancing inside and outside our stores during this period. 

“Their safety, and that of our colleagues and customers, has been of paramount importance to us and that is why we have put a range of measures in place to minimise the risks of infection, including screened checkouts, distanced queuing and a frequent cleaning regime across the business.

“We have also paid a wage premium to all store and distribution colleagues during the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in recognition of their contribution in this unprecedented period.

“I would like to express my warm thanks to all our colleagues for their hard work, dedication and resourcefulness during this very difficult period; their courage and amazing service to customers has been an inspiration.

“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.

“I am extremely proud of the way our teams have responded to the challenges involved in meeting demand at the same time as doing the right things when it matters, such as providing £2m of discount to NHS workers during the crisis and a £1m food bank donation.

“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.”