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B&M Bargains and Home Bargains outline stores drives

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Value retailers B&M Bargains and Home Bargains are pushing ahead with ambitious expansion plans in a bid to cash in on shoppers’ thirst for bargains.

Lancashire-based B&M Bargains wants to up its 90-strong portfolio by 30 stores and Home Bargains is aiming to open between 30 and 50 shops this year to add to its existing 170.

Both retailers want to secure former Woolworths sites. B&M Bargains is in negotiations to sign around 20 of the properties to take it into areas of the country where it has no presence. Home Bargains has already secured 14 sites and is considering further shops.

B&M Bargains recorded like-for-like sales of 8 per cent for its full year to December 31. Managing director Simon Arora said the retailer “finished the year quite strongly”, although he added that trade was slightly affected by Woolies’ closing down Sales.

He said: “In early December there was a bit of noise around the Woolworths closure, which hit sales of toys for a few weeks.”

The retailer, which opened 25 stores last year, is seeking shops with a minimum selling space of 7,000 sq ft.

Arora said he wants to achieve monthly rental agreements with all landlords and is insisting on those terms for new leases. “Monthly rents are now the norm,” he said. “Most professional landlords recognise that the days of quarterly rents are historic.”

He said B&M Bargains is benefiting from consumers trading down, but added: “Our customers are finding it as tough as anyone else’s customers and our margins are under pressure. But footfall is up, in line with our like-for-like increases.”

Home Bargains operations director Joe Morris said business is “as good as it’s ever been forus”.However,headded: “We have to keep improving, as competition increases and customers get fussier.”

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