(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images).

DISCOUNT RETAILER B&M has reported an increase in sales and profits during the six months to September as its stores were allowed to stay open during the lockdown.

The company, which was promoted to the FTSE 100 in September, also announced special dividend of 25p per share alongside its ordinary interim payout of 4.3p per share.

During the period the firm posted an increase in total revenue of a quarter to £2.24 billion, while pre-tax profits was more than doubled to £235.6 million.

B&M sells everything from food to electricals. It attracted customers during lockdown with rock-bottom prices and spacious stores.

The group has plans to open 40 to 50 UK stores in the current financial year, which will be offset by 10 closures, reports said.

According to chief executive Simon Arora the firm’s combination of everyday value across a broad range of products and convenient out of town locations has proved popular with shoppers.

“Despite the wider economic uncertainty and ongoing restrictions related to Covid-19, we remain confident in our business model and future prospects,” he said.

The company expected sales at its UK arm to moderate during the second half of this financial year, but trends in the third quarter have been at a similar level to the first half, it said.

Its French brand Babou reported a 2.4 per cent decline in sales. While half of its Babou stores remain open, they are restricted to selling essential goods only during the country’s second lockdown.

According to analysts, B&M is seeing strong early Christmas trading, which has more than offset the lack of a proper Halloween or Guy Fawkes.

The stock price of B&M has climbed more than a fifth this year.