Fears for 200 jobs

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - Front Page - BY RYAN MCALEER

Ni­pound­world stores at risk af­ter re­tail­er­callsin administrators

AL­MOST 200 jobs at 12 Pound­world stores in North­ern Ire­land are at risk af­ter the bud­get re­tailer called in administrators yes­ter­day.

Four stores are in Belfast, with the re­main­der in New­town­abbey, New­tow­nards, Lon­don­derry, Craigavon, Ar­magh, Omagh, Ban­gor and Cook­stown.

There are 188 em­ploy­ees in to­tal here with branch staff num­bers rang­ing from 10 to 20. The largest Pound­world work­force is at the Long­wood Re­tail Park in New­town­abbey.

Deloitte con­firmed it had been ap­pointed af­ter last-ditch res­cue talks with po­ten­tial buyer R Cap­i­tal broke down over the week­end.

Pound­world, which is owned by pri­vate eq­uity firm TPG Cap­i­tal, has 335 stores in the UK and em­ploys around 5,100 peo­ple.

The administrators said the chain will con­tinue to trade while a buyer for all or part of the busi­ness is sought. There are no re­dun­dan­cies or store clo­sures at this time.

Pound­world founder Chris Edwards was yes­ter­day in talks with Deloitte about po­ten­tially tak­ing on around 200 of the 335 stores in trou­ble.

Mr Edwards sold the chain to TPG in 2015 for a re­ported £150m. He took over at one of Pound­world’s chief ri­vals, Pound­stretcher, last Oc­to­ber. How­ever he lasted just six months in the role.

Deloitte said Pound­world had suf­fered from high prod­uct cost in­fla­tion, de­creas­ing foot­fall, weaker con­sumer con­fi­dence and an in­creas­ingly com­pet­i­tive dis­count re­tail mar­ket.

“The re­tail trad­ing en­vi­ron­ment in the UK re­mains ex­tremely chal­leng­ing and Pound­world has been seek­ing to ad­dress this through a re­struc­ture of its busi­ness,” said joint ad­min­is­tra­tor Clare Board­man.

“Un­for­tu­nately, this has not been pos­si­ble. We still be­lieve a buyer can be found for the busi­ness or at least part of it and we are keep­ing staff ap­praised of de­vel­op­ments as they hap­pen. We thank all em­ploy­ees for their sup­port at this dif­fi­cult time.”

The an­nounce­ment comes af­ter both Toys R Us and elec­tri­cal firm Maplin fell into ad­min­is­tra­tion ear­lier this year.

It is un­der­stood that TPG and Pound­world’s man­age­ment re­jected offers to buy the busi­ness out of a pre-pack ad­min­is­tra­tion and were hop­ing to sell it as a solvent busi­ness. Turn­around spe­cial­ist Al­teri In­vestors was also named as a po­ten­tial buyer though a deal could not be struck.

Pound­world’s losses widened in 2016-17 to £17.1m, from £5.4m of losses the year be­fore.

Re­tail NI chief ex­ec­u­tive Glyn Roberts said the dis­count re­tail mar­ket had be­come in­creas­ingly crowded and com­pet­i­tive.

But he added: “It is wrong to say we are fac­ing the death of the high street. It is go­ing through huge change and re­struc­tur­ing which is clearly re­sult­ing in a num­ber of busi­ness fail­ures.

“Those re­tail­ers that are adapt­ing to an ever-chang­ing mar­ket are ul­ti­mately those that will sur­vive.”

Department store House of Fraser last week an­nounced it would close 31 out of 59 stores.

Pound­world has strug­gled in the com­pet­i­tive dis­count mar­ket

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