Lockdown in the UK provided a suitable environment for B&M to thrive. The group expects adjusted EBITDA for its first half to reach £285m, exceeding expectations of £250m-£270m set out at the end of July, supported by rising average transaction values.

B&M’s value proposition appeals amid economic uncertainty, while its large out-of-town stores (the vast majority of which remained open throughout lockdown) allow shoppers and staff to adhere to social-distancing guidelines. The value general merchandiser’s wide range across various product categories also served it well, and it was able to capitalise on strong demand for tinned and packaged food, as well as DIY & gardening products as consumers stayed home.

B&M achieved double-digit revenue growth for the six months to the end of September – UK sales rose 29.5% and like-for-like sales 23.0%. Strong UK like-for-like growth of 22.7% in Q1 slowed slightly in Q2 to 19.1% as non-essential retailers, such as home specialists, reopened stores. Heron Foods and Babou both achieved positive like-for-like sales growth. This performance is particularly impressive given that B&M does not operate a transactional website.

B&M is wisely reviewing its store portfolio. It opened nine new stores in the UK during the six-month period, but closed eight smaller and older stores. Store openings will pick up over the next six months, with plans to open between 40 and 45 stores during FY2020/21, despite the ongoing impact of Covid-19 on physical retail.