Value giant B&M has promoted chief financial officer Alex Russo to become chief executive and reported flat full-year profits.


B&M chief financial officer Alex Russo will step into the chief executive role

Russo, who has held senior roles at retailers including Asda, Kingfisher and Tesco, will succeed B&M co-founder Simon Arora in the top role at an exact date that has yet to be decided.

He takes the top post at an uncertain time for retailers – and as B&M posted statutory annual pre-tax profits of £525m, which was flat on the previous year. Group adjusted EBITDA in the year to March 26 came in at £619m – down from £626m the previous year, but still slightly above consensus expectations.

Group sales slipped 2.7% year on year to £4.67bn but that was up 22.5% on a two-year basis.

B&M said that “assessing current trading is challenging” because comparisons versus the two previous years are “significantly complicated” because of pandemic restrictions in force at various times.

B&M said it considered a three-year measure helpful and reported that on that basis, like-for-likes at the core UK business since the start of the new financial year were up 7.7% in April, improving to 10.9% in the first three weeks of May.

While “trading patterns are expected to remain unpredictable in the year ahead” EBITDA this year is expected to be between £550m and £600m versus £342m pre-pandemic.

Arora said: “I am very pleased with the results we have delivered. The strength and resilience of our business model has enabled us to execute our plans well and continue offering compelling value for money to customers. As a result, we have sustained the step up in sales and profit compared with pre-pandemic levels. To all colleagues across the group who helped make that happen, I extend my sincere thanks.

“The retail industry is facing inflationary pressures whilst our customers are having to cope with a significant increase in the cost of living, making spending behaviour in the year ahead difficult to predict.

“However, we have seen before that during such times customers will increasingly seek out value for money, and B&M is ideally placed to serve those needs. As such, we are well-positioned to support the communities in which we trade and continue our long-term growth strategy.”

Russo said: “It is a privilege to have the opportunity to build on Simon’s legacy and lead this fantastic business in the years ahead. We have a well-founded strategy, a very strong customer proposition and significant opportunities for further growth ahead of us. Along with the support of the board, I look forward to working together with [co-founder] Bobby Arora and the rest of the senior management team in the years ahead.”