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UK retailer B&M bucks tough market with profit rise

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LONDON (Reuters) – British discounter B&M European Value Retail <BMEB.L> bucked a gloomy UK retail market, reporting a 32.5 percent rise in first half profit, helped by strong growth from its Heron Foods business.

The group said on Tuesday that although underlying sales growth at the main B&M fascia slowed in the second quarter it was “well placed” for the key Christmas quarter.

It said the retail environment was “difficult and uncertain”.

The group made a pretax profit of 115 million pounds in the 26 weeks to Sept. 29, up from 86.8 million pounds in the same period last year, on group revenue up 16.1 percent to 1.56 billion pounds.

In the B&M fascia, first half like-for-like sales growth was flat and trading at the start of the third quarter has been similar. That represents a slowdown from first quarter growth of 1.6 percent.

The group said it was on track to open at least 58 new B&M stores and 20 new Heron Foods stores in the 2018-19 year.

It also trades as Jawoll in Germany and last month entered the French market with the 91.2 million-euro purchase of the Babou chain.

Shares in B&M, up 3 percent over the last year, closed Monday at 405 pence, valuing the business at 4.1 billion pounds.

($1 = 0.7772 pounds)

(Reporting by James Davey; editing by Costas Pitas)

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