B&M Bargains

B&M appears poised to roll out fresh fruit & veg after adding a page to its website telling shoppers they would find it in their “closest” store.

“Along with grabbing a great bargain at B&M, make sure you also grab at least one of your five a day from our healthy fruit and vegetables range,” it said.

“Pop down to your closest B&M to have a look through our selection of fruit and vegetables, or check our product descriptions below for more details.”

The recently added page appears to have been a work in progress. No products were listed under the message and it could not be found using the site’s search function or navigation menu. The text was deleted after The Grocer enquired about the plans, leaving only the heading ‘Fresh Fruit & Vegetables’.

Some B&M stores already sell fresh fruit & veg such as apples, grapes, cucumbers and mushrooms, a spokeswoman said. She would not disclose how many and said there were no plans for every store to offer the range.

B&M also offers Heron Foods’ frozen and chilled ranges in at least 80 stores, having acquired the grocery chain in 2017. B&M CEO Simon Arora said earlier this year that a decision on rolling out the proposition across the estate of about 650 stores would be taken in January 2020, following the completion of a new multi-temperature warehouse in Bedford.

Bryan Roberts, insights director at TCC Global, said B&M’s current fresh offer was not “widespread” and the new Bedford warehouse - which is now complete - could facilitate a much wider rollout. He said B&M’s grocery offer lagged behind Home Bargains’, which had fresh, frozen and chilled in a large number of stores, and recently trademarked ’Meadow Hill Fresh Groceries’.

“Theoretically you can do a full grocery shop at Home Bargains and B&M lacks that on a widespread level,” said Roberts.

Grocery provided lower margins than general merchandise but “if it drives frequency and attracts new shoppers it will have a generally positive impact,” he added.

GlobalData retail analysis Thomas Brereton said the website changes suggested the extent of the offer was “under review” ahead of a possible rollout.

“They had it on a hidden part of the site but why would you do that if that plan wasn’t in the wings?” he said.

GlobalData’s latest annual survey of 10,000 consumers found 23.2% had purchased food and grocery from B&M and 19.4% from Home Bargains, putting both ahead of Waitrose, on 18.7%.

The two variety discounters are both policed by the Groceries Code Adjudicator, with Home Bargains the latest to be added, in September this year, after revenues reached the £1bn threshold for inclusion.

Poundland is also expanding its food offer. The variety discounter recently introduced new frozen, chilled and fresh ranges in a five-store trial that could be extended to 250. It has also rolled out new price points, from sub-£1 to £10, and new chilled and ambient food lines across its 850-store estate.