Belfast Telegraph

Boss of Poundland steps down after a decade at the top

By Holly Williams

Poundland boss Jim McCarthy is to retire after a decade-long tenure at Europe's biggest set-price retailer.

Mr McCarthy (60) will be replaced by former B&Q chief executive Kevin O'Byrne on July 1, but will remain with the group until his retirement at the firm's annual shareholder meeting in September.

Mr O'Byrne is a graduate of Trinity College and headed B&Q in the UK and Ireland until a shake-up by owner Kingfisher last year.

He will become chief executive designate from April 4.

Poundland chairman Darren Shapland said Mr McCarthy has "skilfully guided" the business from a small, private chain of less than 150 stores when he joined in August 2006 to more than 900 outlets across the UK, Ireland and Spain.

It has around 20 stores in Northern Ireland.

The group also broke the £1bn sales barrier for the first time in the year to March 2015.

"His energy, enthusiasm and passionate management style has touched many people during his successful tenure," Mr Shapland said.

But his departure also comes at a testing time for Poundland, which has seen profits come under pressure amid tough trading, while its takeover of rival chain 99p Stores has also been far from smooth.

Poundland warned over annual profits in January after seeing fewer shoppers on the high street over Christmas, which came after it posted a 26% drop in half-year profits in November.

The group finally received the all-clear for its £55m takeover of rival 99p Stores from the competition watchdog last September, but Mr McCarthy has since admitted that 99p Stores was "in a mess" when it was handed over.

He said on announcing his retirement that Poundland was a "strong business, which I am privileged to have had the opportunity to lead through a period of significant growth and change".

He added: "After over 40 years in retail, including 10 years leading Poundland, I will leave the business in the hands of a very experienced leadership team who I know will give Kevin their full support."

Prior to his role at B&Q, Mr O'Byrne also acted as the head of finance at the then Dixons Retail and Kingfisher.

Retail analyst Clive Black at Shore Capital praised Mr McCarthy on his "considerable achievements" at Poundland.

He said that incoming boss Mr O'Byrne was an "excellent replacement".

Belfast Telegraph