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Poundworld founder rips into Deloitte for ignoring rescue bid

Chris Edwards has criticised Deloitte for not taking his bid for the business seriously.

The founder of Poundworld has ripped into the retailer’s administrators, saying his bid to save thousands of jobs has been ignored.

Chris Edwards, who founded Poundworld in 1974, wants to save around 180 stores, safeguarding 3,000 jobs, but said on Monday that “the whole administration process has been handled badly”.

Poundworld collapsed into administration on June 11, putting around 5,100 jobs at risk.

Administrators at Deloitte have been looking for a buyer, but have so far failed and have launched closing-down sales in Poundworld’s stores.

Mr Edwards said: “I contacted the administrator four weeks ago and was just paid lip service until everyone else they were talking to about saving Poundworld had walked away.

“The process has taken so long that the shops are now holding closing-down sales and selling stock that isn’t being replenished, so, with every day that passes, the task of saving the business becomes more difficult and puts another nail in the coffin.

“It’s clear that the lack of action by the parties running the process has put jobs even more at risk but, when I’ve raised concerns over the timescale, they say their priority is to creditors, so it will be interesting to see how much cash is left after the administrators’ fees and wages.”

If something doesn’t happen in the next few days, the business will go to the wall, which is so unnecessary when we have the desire and ability to save it Poundworld founder Chris Edwards

Mr Edwards has now been given access to bankers at Santander, Poundworld’s lender, who are working with him on a possible rescue package.

He said members of Poundworld’s former management team would be willing to return to the business, but that Deloitte needed to act soon.

“If something doesn’t happen in the next few days, the business will go to the wall, which is so unnecessary when we have the desire and ability to save it,” he said.

Joint administrators Daniel Butters and Clare Boardman have already made 100 people redundant at Poundworld’s head office in Normanton, West Yorkshire.

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Chris Edwards wants to safeguard jobs at Poundworld (PA)

The administrators said the collapse of Poundworld, which was formerly owned by TPG Capital, was due to falling footfall, rising costs and weak consumer confidence.

TPG said putting the business into administration was a “difficult decision”, and that the retailer was affected by a decline in the UK retail sector.

Deloitte is also under pressure for its handling of Comet’s administration after it emerged that one of the firm’s partners, Neville Kahn, is under investigation by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW).

A Deloitte spokesman said: “To date no party has presented a credible and acceptable bid with accompanying confirmation of funding.

“We have provided guidance to indicate how a successful bid might be structured and have provided detailed information to assist bidders in an effort to help them wherever possible.

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