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B&M chief executive Simon Arora to retire in 2023

EconomyB&M chief executive Simon Arora to retire in 2023


B&M boss Simon Arora to retire in 2023 after more than 17 years building discount chain into major British retail success story

  • B&M’s sales and profits have soared since the coronavirus pandemic started 
  • Simon and Bobby Arora bought the discount retailer back in December 2004
  • Today, B&M has around 1,100 establishments and employs over 35,000 people

B&M chief executive Simon Arora is retiring from the business he helped transform from a down-on-its-luck grocery chain into a British retail powerhouse. 

The firm told investors on Friday the billionaire businessman would stand down from his role in a year’s time, while his younger sibling Bobby would remain as the firm’s trading director.

When the pair bought the discount retailer back in December 2004, it was a regional supermarket operator with 21 stores that was struggling to survive and had just posted a £250,000 loss.

Beginnings: When the Aroras bought B&M back in 2004, it was a regional supermarket operator with 21 stores that was struggling to survive and had just posted a £250,000 loss

Beginnings: When the Aroras bought B&M back in 2004, it was a regional supermarket operator with 21 stores that was struggling to survive and had just posted a £250,000 loss 

The brothers brought in new management, and reoriented the company’s focus away from food and towards selling goods from a wide range of categories, like furniture, toiletries, gardening equipment and clothing.

Growth took off considerably during the global financial crisis when more Britons began shopping for bargains, and the group took advantage of lower retail rents to acquire vacant properties, some of which were former Woolworths stores.

B&M has been able to keep prices down because it tends to source products directly from suppliers in Asia, where manufacturing costs are far cheaper, and from manufacturers’ clearance sales.

By the start of the 2010s, the company had seen its annual sales surpass £1billion, with B&M opening a new headquarters and a 620,000 square foot distribution centre in Speke, Liverpool, to further its expansion efforts.

During the decade, it bought frozen food store chain Heron Foods, entered the French and German markets, and was listed on the London Stock Exchange with a valuation of around £2.7billion.

The Arora brothers and B&M’s majority owner, private equity firm Clayton Dubilier & Rice, earned a payday of about £1billion from the initial public offering. Three years later, Simon and Bobby sold another £215million stake.

Departure: Chief executive Simon Arora (middle) will stand down as chief executive in a year's time. Here he is pictured with his brothers Robin (left) and Bobby (right)

Departure: Chief executive Simon Arora (middle) will stand down as chief executive in a year’s time. Here he is pictured with his brothers Robin (left) and Bobby (right)

Their wealth received an even greater boost when the coronavirus pandemic drove more Britons to search for a bargain, and B&M was classed as an essential retailer in the UK, meaning its stores could remain open.

For the last full financial year, B&M’s revenues surged by over £1billion to £4.8billion as it also benefited from a boom in DIY and gardening sales, while profits climbed more than fivefold to £428.1million.

Today, the business has around 1,100 establishments across the UK and France, employs over 35,000 people, and is listed on the blue-chip FTSE 100 Index. 

B&M’s chairman Peter Bamford said of Simon Arora: ‘The remarkable growth of the business from its humble beginnings to where it is today reflects his exceptional passion, determination and ability.

‘Moreover, he has established a firm foundation from which the group will continue to deliver its successful growth strategy and great value for its customers.’

Simon Arora said: ‘It has been a privilege to lead B&M for seventeen years and I am immensely proud of the incredible journey that we have been on. 

‘B&M’s value for money proposition remains as relevant and compelling to shoppers today as it has ever been. I would like to thank all 38,000 members of the B&M family for their hard work and commitment both now and as we continue our expansion.’ 

B&M shares were down 5.85 per cent to 517.8p during the late morning, though their value has still soared by over 72 per cent in the past two years following the phenomenal growth in pandemic-induced trade. 

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