It was a struggling chain of only 21 stores when Simon and Bobby Arora acquired B&M in 2005. It is a nearly £ 4 billion empire now.
The Arora brothers are the brains behind B&M’s rapid growth, the discount chain that has come from nowhere to take its place as one of the largest retailers in the UK, winning a multi-billion pound fortune for the ambitious founders.
The business was a struggling chain of just 21 stores when Simon and Bobby Arora bought B&M in 2005, where customers were met with what seemed like a jumble sale.
B&M is today reaching 700 U.K. For the first time this year, stores and yearly profits are projected to top 4 billion pounds. What City observers call a “treasure hunt” has replaced the once chaotic layout as bargain seekers rush to the shops to buy cheap staples such as breakfast cereal, washing-up liquid and dog food and to be lured into larger purchases such as beds and garden sheds.
Simon, 51, is the eldest of three children, and as the chief executive of B&M, he is the publicly traded company’s low-key public face that avoids the spotlight as much as possible.
He has worked closely with Bobby – they say the brothers live next door to each other – for more than 20 years, who is the trading director of the company. Robin, their younger brother, is a director as well, but has not been involved to the same degree.
Simon says of the relationship, “There’s a Punjabi saying from our childhood that we both believe in: ‘One plus one equals 11,'” “Bobby has been by my side throughout my business career, and I believe we’ve both been more effective because of that relationship.”
The twins, who grew up in Sale, Manchester, had already found success prior to making it big with B&M.
A profitable wholesale firm, Orient Sourcing, began importing cheap household goods for supermarket chains in the 1990s, eventually selling them for £ 30 million.
After Partition, his late father’s family arrived in New Delhi “classic immigrant story.” with his grandmother selling her wedding bracelet so that they could afford to open a shop. Simon described his background as a “almost penniless”
In the 1960s, his father emigrated with “10 pounds in his pocket” to Britain and started many companies. “The money he made, he spent on his children’s education,” Simon told me in an interview. “He also loved to talk business and trade with his sons, and he filled us with ambition and confidence.”
Simon and Bobby have chosen various routes.
Simon studied law at Cambridge and worked at McKinsey, a management consulting company, among others, early on in his career.
Bobby, on the other hand, after school, went straight into the family cash-and-carry business.
Simon says of B&M’s formula for success, “We like to keep it simple,” “We sell brands that our customers recognize, we source our merchandise directly so there’s no middleman, and we have good retail standards.”
“I spend my workday and even my sleep worrying that something could go wrong. Simon also attributes part of his success to what his mom, Shalni, a successful businesswoman herself, calls a “excessive dose of anxiety.”
The concern seems to have paid off, because the Aroras are far from destitute today with B&M, founded in Blackpool in the late 1970s by Malcolm Billington.
Before the company went public in 2014 and the family earned an initial payout of £ 1 billion, the brothers sold a stake to private equity investors in 2012 for more than £ 500 million.
The success of the company during the pandemic has driven its share price this year to a record high of 533.6 pence, taking the value of the combined interest of the family to around £ 1 billion. Over the past 12 months, they have also earned £ 100 million in dividends.