B&M annual profit surges to £525.4 million, Brexit red tape remains a concern
Simon, Bobby and Robin Arora
THE British discount chain, B&M, reported a 108 per cent surge in its pre-tax profits to £525.4 million in the year to March 27, backed by strong trading during lockdowns.
Total revenue grew 26 per cent to £4.8 billion as the group’s Heron Foods frozen groceries chain increased sales by more than six per cent, while sales at its Babou group in France rose more than nine per cent despite closure for 10 weeks.
The business benefited from being an essential retailer and remaining open throughout the pandemic, B&M chief executive Simon Arora said.
“The last year has been an exceptional one,” he said. “Our results reflect the speed at which we responded to the challenges presented by Covid-19 and the strength of our execution.”
B&M is planning to open 45 more stores across the business this year, but remained concerned about the “unpredictable” trading patterns.
Arora has also hit out at “nonsense” Irish border rules and urged ministers to intervene and resolve disruption as Brexit red tape continued to hamper business for retailers and suppliers.
As per the rules, British exports of animal and plant products to the European Union are now required to have health certificates issued by a registered official veterinarian following the UK’s departure from the bloc.
“If I want to ship beef and tomato pot noodles from Liverpool to Dublin I’ve got to get veterinary sign-off for every lorry. It’s a big problem,” Arora said.
“Why do we have this friction? It makes no sense. The current situation is deeply unsatisfactory. The politicians need to fix it,” he added.
Industry leaders have warned that the rules could cause major disruptions after environment secretary George Eustice told MPs in September that up to 300,000 certificates would be needed each year – five times more than current levels.
Last month Tesco said it would order its suppliers to ship food across the Irish Sea themselves to avoid being caught in border turmoil.