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B&M to open dozens of new shops as other chains struggle

(c) Sky News 2019: <a href="">B&M to open dozens of new shops as other chains struggle</a>

Discount goods retailer B&M says it is planning to open 50 new stores this year as its emphasis on value attracts wary shoppers.

The company, which sells a wide range of products for the home and garden in the UK, France and Germany, said profit before tax in the year to 30 March came in at £249.4m - a rise of almost 9% on the previous year.

Revenue rose 17% to £3.5bn - aided by expansion.

Like-for-like sales, reflecting trading at stores open for more than a year, at B&M in its core UK market were just 0.7% higher.

Its other brands include Heron Foods.

The company said it opened 44 net new outlets in the UK over the 12 months and it was on track to create 50 new sites in its current financial year. That would leave the firm with around 670 sites.

The company said it was "benefiting from plentiful availability of attractive new store opportunities". It is seeking larger premises to trade from and has found space since the collapse of firms such as Toys R Us.

It updated on its performance as the wider retail sector continues to endure a toxic cocktail of weak consumer confidence and rising costs - from things such as business rates, minimum wage rules and rent bills.

It has taken its toll on the sector for more than a year with a slew of big names either falling or seeking rescue deals to improve their fortunes.

The latest to call for help was Sir Philip Green's Arcadia Group - behind Topshop and Dorothy Perkins - which announced plans on Wednesday evening to close 23 branches and cut rents at dozens more .

B&M confirmed a 5.7% increase to its dividend and maintained its outlook.

Shares, up 35% in the year to date, were 1% down in early deals.

Chief executive, Simon Arora, said of his company's performance: "B&M has again delivered strong results against the challenging backdrop of continued structural change in our industry, rising costs and uncertain times for consumers, demonstrating that its value credentials remain as resonant as ever with customers, whether they need a bargain or just enjoy one.

"We have made important progress in establishing platforms for further long term expansion in both Germany and France although there is much work to be done to implement the disruptive, value-led B&M model in these large new markets.

"We enter the new financial year with renewed trading momentum particularly in the UK, a high quality new store expansion programme in place, and investing in our new infrastructure to support future growth.

"I'm confident B&M is well-positioned to deliver further strong progress in the current year and beyond."