B&M buoyed by DIY sales boom in UK coronavirus lockdown

A woman painting a door

B&M has traded throughout the UK coronavirus lockdown.
Photograph: Rachel Husband/Alamy

The discount retailer B&M has said exceptionally strong demand for DIY and gardening products in the coronavirus lockdown drove a 22.7% jump in underlying UK sales over the last eight weeks.

The group, which has traded throughout, said UK like-for-like sales growth had accelerated from 6.6% in the final quarter of its 2019-20 year, which benefited from a strong grocery performance in March.

It said customers had been visiting its stores less frequently during the lockdown but their average spend had been much higher than usual.

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However, the business was experiencing larger-than-normal operating costs in distribution and its stores because of physical-distancing measures and higher wage costs during the crisis.

It also warned there had been a significant “bring-forward” of demand in some key categories, partly caused by the warm spring weather.

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The chief executive, Simon Arora, said: “We are not expecting this current level of trading to continue as normal shopping patterns resume. There is also considerable uncertainty in relation to the progression of Covid-19 and the economic outlook, and it is therefore hard to predict future trading levels.”

B&M shares were up 4% at £3.85 in morning trading on Friday, valuing the business at £3.85bn.

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