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B&M hires new boss as discount retailer posts fall in sales

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B&M reported a decline in sales after it failed to keep with a pandemic-boosted performance in the previous year (Paul Faith/PA) (PA Archive)
B&M reported a decline in sales after it failed to keep with a pandemic-boosted performance in the previous year (Paul Faith/PA) (PA Archive)

Discount retailer B&M announced that finance boss Alex Russo is to become the firm’s new chief executive as it reported a dip in sales for the past year.

It comes a month after the group, which also owns Heron Foods in the UK, announced that the billionaire who rapidly grew the chain, Simon Arora, will step down from the top role next year.

Mr Russo joined the company in October 2020 follow leadership stints at retail rivals including Asda, Tesco and B&Q owner Kingfisher.

Chairman Peter Bamford said: “Since joining the group, Alex has made a very positive contribution to the business.

“He has demonstrated strong leadership skills and a deep appreciation of the B&M culture and business model, making him the outstanding candidate for the role.”

Mr Russo will receive a base salary of £800,000 for the job.

The retail industry is facing inflationary pressures whilst our customers are having to cope with a significant increase in the cost of living, making spending behaviour in the year ahead difficult to predict

Simon Arora, B&M

It came as B&M European Value Retail told shareholders that group revenues declined by 2.7% to £4.67 billion in the year to March 26, while profits stayed roughly flat.

The firm posted another £525 million pre-tax profit for the financial year as it witnessed surging costs.

The company said it opened 34 new UK stores over the past year, although this was partly offset by 14 closures and relocations.

Sales in UK B&M stores decreased by 4.1% for the year as the new outlets helped to slightly mitigate a 9% drop in like-for-like sales after benefiting from staying open during the pandemic.

B&M said UK like-for-like sales over the latest eight weeks have been 13.2% below levels from a year earlier but the firm stressed it is “ideally placed” as customers seek to control their spending during the cost-of-living crisis.

Mr Arora said: “The retail industry is facing inflationary pressures whilst our customers are having to cope with a significant increase in the cost of living, making spending behaviour in the year ahead difficult to predict.

“However, we have seen before that during such times customers will increasingly seek out value for money, and B&M is ideally placed to serve those needs.

“As such, we are well positioned to support the communities in which we trade and continue our long-term growth strategy.”

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