Poundworld founder blames private equity for retailer's demise

The final Poundworld stores are to close by Friday

POUNDWORLD'S founder Chris Edwards has criticised how the retailer was run before it collapsed, saying the business was "very badly managed" by its private equity owner TPG Capital.

Mr Edwards founded Poundworld in 1974 and sold it to TPG for £150 million three years ago.

The budget retailer's final stores are to close by Friday after the chain fell into administration on June 11, with TPG blaming the collapse on the decline in the UK retail sector and a change in consumer behaviour.

Almost 200 local jobs are to be lost later this week following the final round of store closures, which will affect a total of 2,339 staff across the UK.

Poundworld had employed 188 people at 12 stores in the north, with four in Belfast and others in Derry, Armagh, Omagh, Cookstown, Newtownabbey, Newtownards, Craigavon and Bangor.

The collapse came amid decreasing footfall, rising costs and weak consumer confidence.

The budget retail chain is one of a number of retailers to call in administrators this year, with Toys R Us and Maplin disappearing from UK high streets.

Mr Edwards, who tried to buy around 180 stores out of administration, has torn into TPG, saying Poundworld's collapse wasn't related to Brexit, the internet, or sterling's devaluation.

Mr Edwards said: "The new owners made expensive decisions that the business couldn't take.

"They started recruiting people from supermarket backgrounds, who didn't understand the discount, fixed-price model and with this they blew the firm's wage structure.

"Then, they started selling multi-price products completely ignoring Poundworld's USP, which was its amazing range of products that were all priced at just a pound."

Mr Edwards said he raised concerns to TPG, sometimes through his lawyers, about how Poundworld was being run, but that his comments "fell on deaf ears".

The retail boss also accused Poundworld's administrators at Deloitte of deliberately slowing down the sale process to generate money from the liquidation of the stock.

"In my opinion the administrator deliberately slowed down any potential sale of the business to generate more cash, with no thought for the jobs that would be lost.

"In the last seven weeks, I'd estimate the business turned over approximately £40 million and we'll wait and see where this money ends up ," he added.

TPG and Deloitte declined to comment.

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