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Sunday 22 September 2019

Sir Terry Leahy to check out after five years as chairman of B&M

The former Tesco boss will be replaced on March 1 by Peter Bamford, chairman of SuperDry fashion firm SuperGroup.

BandM store
BandM store

By Holly Williams, Press Association Deputy City Editor

Retail veteran Sir Terry Leahy is stepping down as chairman of discount chain B&M next year after five years in the role.

The former Tesco boss will be replaced on March 1 by Peter Bamford, chairman of SuperDry fashion firm SuperGroup.

Shares in B&M fell more than 2% as the announcement took investors by surprise.

BandM chairman departs

It came as the group posted a 17.8% rise in pre-tax profits to £86.8 million for the six months to September 23 after like-for-like sales rose 7.5%, including a 7.7% increase in the second quarter.

Under Sir Terry’s stewardship, B&M has seen its revenues surge from around £993 million to £2.7 billion as it has expanded from 331 stores to nearly 900, while profits have more than doubled from £83 million to £204 million.

He also steered the group through its stock market flotation in 2014, first international foray in the same year with an acquisition in Germany, and the recent takeover of 251-strong grocery store chain Heron Food Group.

Simon Arora, chief executive of B&M, said: “I would like to thank Sir Terry warmly on behalf of everyone at B&M for his great contribution and his wise counsel over the last few critically important years in the company’s transition into a major force in our industry.”

He added that Mr Bamford is an “able, experienced public company chairman, with a proven personal record of success in consumer and retail”.

SuperGroup stock

Sir Terry said it had been a “privilege to have been part of one of the most exciting emerging retail growth stories of the past decade”, but did not give a reason for stepping down.

In its half-year results, the retailer said it was “confident” for the Christmas season, despite economic uncertainty and coming up against “exceptionally” strong trading from a year earlier.

B&M said: “In tough times, many shoppers don’t just love a bargain, they need a bargain and B&M’s competitive position has never been stronger.”

The retailer is on track to open 50 new stores in the UK, seven of which will be relocations, over the financial year.

Its German business Jawoll is on track to open 11 new stores.

The group added that it has bought land in Bedford to set up a new southern UK distribution centre, which will open in late 2019, as it looks to grow further nationwide.

Analyst Adam Tomlinson at Liberum said B&M had delivered a “strong” first half performance, but added that news of Sir Terry’s departure was “unexpected” and would be disappointing to investors.

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