B&M Bargains is to acquire a majority stake in German discount retailer JA Woll Handels in its first move outside of the UK.

Retail Week understands that the deal is the culmination of a year of discussions with the German general merchandise retailer.

B&M has been keen to find a suitable joint venture partner since the end of 2012, when Retail Week revealed joint managing director Simon Arora was eyeing France, Germany and the Netherlands.

JA Woll Handels operates 50 stores under the fascias Jawoll and Hafu in the Northwest of Germany. It sells products across a range of categories including home, garden, pets and electricals.

It is understood B&M, which operates 375 stores in the UK, plans to expand the retailer in the south of Germany under its established fascias.

JA Woll Handels will take advantage of B&M’s experience and particularly its Far East sourcing abilities.

JA Woll Handels’ management hold the remaining stake in the company.

It is an important move for B&M which is thought to be seeking a £2bn IPO after it was bought by US private equity investor CD&R in December 2012. It appointed investment bank Lazard in January to prepare a share offering.

B&M, which counts ex-Tesco boss Sir Terry Leahy as its chairman, has begun growing its store base in the south of England outside its Northwest heartland over the past year.