Value chain B&M Bargains has bought a majority stake in German discount group JA Woll Handels. Retail Week takes a look at the business.

  • JA Woll Handels, the German discount retail group based in the north-western town of Soltau, has been trading for 25 years.
  • It operates the fascias Jawoll, which loosely translates as ‘absolutely’ or ‘oh yes’, and Hafu.
  • The group was founded in 1985 by the couple Silke and Dieter Stern in Soltau when they opened their first store, originally an electrical retailer.
  • Now the group is owned by Ingo Stern, son of Dieter, and Ralf Hartwich. Until the deal with B&M, Nils Hansen was its chief executive. It seems this role may have changed since the B&M deal as he is now cited as an executive.
  • JA Woll trades from 49 stores and a transactional website, which attract a total of 11 million customers each year.
  • JA Woll generated sales of €155m (£128m) in the year to the end of December 2013.
  • It supplies the stores through end of line stock, bankruptcies, warehouse clearances etc.
  • B&M wants to target the general merchandise market in Germany. Planet Retail research director Matthias Queck believes there are good opportunities to be had. “It is much less under pressure than the value food market in terms of price and there has been much less consolidation in general merchandise too,” he said. “On the other hand we’ve seen some non-food retailers go bankrupt but it will depend on getting the detail right.”