Whilst most retail businesses in Britain have seen their profits plunge since the first lockdown, B&M hit the Covid jackpot.
This big discount chain, which sells a wide variety of non-essential products from wallpaper, curtains and furniture to toys and vacuum cleaners, also stocks a few groceries, thereby enabling it to stay open during both lockdowns whilst much of the competition lost out.
The sight of customers flocking to buy garden furniture and hoovers at B&M whilst the shutters stayed down on their own businesses, did not go down well with rivals. Meanwhile, B&M more than doubled its takings: in the half year ending on 26 September it declared a 122 percent increase in pre-tax profit.
The billionaire Arora family who have a controlling stake in the company stand to get a £44m pay-out. In total, investors will get a £250m special dividend.
Yet in spite of having amassed a fortune throughout the pandemic thanks to a handy loophole in the system, B&M also pocketed £38m in business rates relief (a tax rebate meant to help businesses struggling to pay overheads while closed), effectively transforming this state subsidy into increased share value.
And it’s all legal.