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B&M encounter exceptionally strong demand in UK business

B&M European Value Retail S.A. (LON:BME), the UK’s leading general merchandise value retailer, today provided a trading update relating to the fourth quarter of the 2019/20 financial year (the thirteen weeks ended 28 March 2020) and the first eight weeks of the 2020/21 financial year to 23 May 2020.

Highlights

● Strong end to fourth quarter trading driven by exceptionally strong March performance on Grocery, with B&M UK fascia LFL revenues of +6.6% over the quarter

● Strong revenue growth in the first 8 weeks of the new financial year with B&M UK fascia LFL revenues of +22.7%, driven by exceptionally strong DIY and Gardening categories and despite a significant fall in customer count

● If DIY and Gardening categories are excluded, the B&M UK fascia LFL over that 8 week period was +10.3%

●DIY and Gardening revenue growth represents a significant pull-forward of demand in those categories caused by warm dry weather and customers being at home during the lockdown, and the closure of most DIY and gardening retailers

● The B&M UK business is experiencing higher than normal operating costs in distribution and at stores resulting from the application of social distancing measures put in place to protect our customers and colleagues, as well as the payment of premium wage rates during the Covid-19 peak period

● Strong performance from Heron Foods in both the fourth quarter and the early weeks of the new financial year

● 49 B&M UK fascia stores which had previously been temporarily closed have all now re-opened

● B&M has donated £1m to UK Food banks and has provided £2m in discount to NHS workers

● B&M and Babou stores in France closed from 15 March and all but two re-opened on 11 May.

Simon Arora, B&M European Value Retail S.A. CEO, commented:

“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.”

B&M will release its Preliminary Results for the 2019/20 financial year on Thursday 11 June. A conference call for investors and analysts will be held at 8.30am on that day.

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