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Britain's B&M plans 50 more stores as profit rises

[LONDON] Fast-growing British discounter B&M European Value Retail reported an 8.7 per cent rise in 2018-19 profit and said it plans to open another 50 stores in its new financial year.

The company trades from around 620 B&M branded stores and 281 stores under the Heron Foods and B&M Express brands in Britain as well as the Jawoll chain in Germany and Babou brand in France.

B&M, a general goods retailer which sells everything from furniture to electricals to food, said on Thursday it made a pretax profit of £249.4 million (S$434.5 million) in the year to March 30, on revenue up 17.1 per cent to £3.49 billion.

In contrast to a host of UK retailers who are closing stores, due to rising costs and the shift to internet sales, the group opened a net 44 new B&M fascia stores during the year and plans at least a further 50 new openings in 2019-20. It said it was benefiting from plentiful availability of new store opportunities.

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B&M said it had made a "pleasing" start to its new financial year with first quarter like-for-like sales up "mid-single digit" in B&M UK fascia stores.

"We just achieved our best ever Easter trading season, with healthy positive like-for-likes, but it would be prudent to expect more moderate like-for-like growth in the full year as a whole," said Chief Executive Simon Arora.

Shares in B&M, up 35 per cent so far this year, were down 0.2 per cent in early trading on Thursday, valuing the business at £3.82 billion.