Belfast Telegraph

Discount chain Poundland 'ready for no-deal' Brexit

Discount retailer Poundland, which has over 30 stores in Northern Ireland, has said it has clear contingency plans in the event that the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal.
Discount retailer Poundland, which has over 30 stores in Northern Ireland, has said it has clear contingency plans in the event that the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

By Ellie Donnelly

Discount retailer Poundland, which has over 30 stores in Northern Ireland, has said it has clear contingency plans in the event that the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal.

Managing director Barry Williams said that a no-deal Brexit would be "the worst outcome from a business perspective."

Three of the biggest challenges facing UK businesses in the event of a hard Brexit are in the areas of migrant workforce, the movement of goods and increased tariffs.

Mr Williams said the company - which also owns Poundland sister brand Dealz in the Republic - has worked "really hard" to ensure its colleagues are secure in their employment with the group.

There are 66 Dealz stores across the border.

In Northern Ireland, it also operates nine of its Pep&Co fashion concessions within Poundland shops.

Mr Williams said: "In terms of the movement of goods and congestion at ports, it's the supply chain, and if there is going to be congestion and it is going to lengthen your supply chain, you build more stock at both ends of it."

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He added that the company benefits from the fact that it does not sell much fresh produce.

"If I had a business selling a lot of fresh food that I was expecting to come in from Europe I would be very concerned, but we don't."

In addition, if the UK does crash out and it goes to WTO tariffs, the company is clear on what they look like.

"That represents another challenge to us in making sure our business is efficient so we don't pass that cost on to our customers and while that will be a challenge, we'll get on with it."

Meanwhile, Mr Williams said parent company, Pepkor Europe, is "an attractive proposition" amid rumours about a possible flotation of the business.

The group's owner, South African company Steinhoff International Holdings, is mulling all options for Pepkor, including a possible initial public offering or sale as early as next month.

Such reports were "purely speculation" at this stage, Mr Williams said, adding that there was "nothing" he could add to it.

"What I would say is Pepko Europe is a very attractive proposition. We've got three retail brands from Poundland, Dealz and Pepkor in Eastern Europe that are all performing extremely well in the market.

"So I think it's understandable that there is speculation about this business because it is an attractive proposition," Mr Williams added.

And he said the company had no qualms about development in the Republic.

"You look at all the headlines [in Ireland] it feels like there's a real negativity, with lots of challenges and concerns, and that I appreciate," he said.

"But Dealz is doing well, swimming against the tide, investing, creating jobs, and whatever happens with Brexit, the Monday morning after it shops will be open, customers will be looking for products, they will be looking for value, and our job is to provide that to them," he added.

The group hopes to open another 10 shops in the Republic next year.

Belfast Telegraph

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