Retail

Discount pioneers race to save remains of Poundworld


Around half of Poundworld’s stores could yet be saved as its founder
Chris Edwards and Steve Smith, founder of erstwhile rival Poundland, table final offers with Deloitte, the discount chain’s administrators.

People close to the situation said an agreement was likely to be reached one way or another on Monday. “We are closer than we have ever been,” said Mr Edwards, who has in the past been critical of Deloitte’s handling of the company.

Mr Edwards’ proposal would keep around 171 stores open, while Mr Smith also said “quite a few” stores could be saved. Both are understood to be asking landlords to agree to rent reductions. With the company already in administration, this may be a better alternative for many than trying to re-let the sites.

Both parties suggested that the main challenge now is to replenish the stores, which had been set to cease trading entirely by August 10.

Deloitte has been running down the stock to pay creditors, with the result that many of the stores and the group’s warehouse in West Yorkshire are now almost empty.

Poundworld entered administration in June after failing to find a buyer as a going concern.

The group, which was bought from Mr Edwards for £150m by private equity firm TPG in 2015, had suffered from the fall in sterling against the dollar. Much of discounters’ merchandise is bought in the US currency. It had also expanded aggressively into sites with higher rental costs.

Deloitte has already announced the closure of 145 stores, and on Friday said that the remainder of the 335-store estate would shut their doors by August 10. If no buyer for the chain is found, around 5,100 jobs may be lost.

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