At a time of retail crisis, Poundland stores are popping all over, selling everything from books to beans for just one small golden nugget. Some sneer at the pile-it-high approach, but Poundland’s profits show it works.
The gutted Woolworths on my local high street has played host to a number of fly-by-night shops in the last year.
First an overpriced furniture and art store, then a mirror emporium and finally a shop that seemed to sell nothing very useful. Then two weeks ago, everything changed. Poundland arrived.
The good news about Poundland
Poundland, which recently posted profits of £20m, has made the humble pound shop respectable. It stocks branded goods from big names such as Heinz Baked Beans, Colgate toothpaste and Kodak batteries.
Turn the aisle and you’ll find autobiographies from the likes of Strictly Come Dancing’s Alesha Dixon, reading glasses and an array of Halloween goods that’d make Dracula shudder. And, as they say: ‘Yes, everything’s a pound.’
So what’s not to love? With fears of a double-dip recession looming and more and more of us searching out ways to save money, somewhere that stocks food staples and stocking fillers at a single low price is perfect. And even better, Poundland’s success has made retail giants such as Tesco sit up and start checking its prices and implementing its own budget ranges.
With 299 stores nationwide and more planned, Poundland looks like it’s about to become as big as Woolies was in the 60s and 70s – but is this really such a good thing?
Can cheap really be cheerful?
Dissenters have commented on the sources of the products, accusing the company of exploiting foreign workers. This was vehemently denied in a recent interview with CEO Jim McCarthy who said: ‘This happened with a new supplier [which had] outsourced the work, which we’d prohibited in our agreement… it was brought to our attention, we investigated and cancelled our order.’
Others say there’s nothing of real value in a pound shop. That seems to smack of snobbery – as a quick trip round any Poundland would prove. I recently picked up three workbooks for my five year-old and a pack of Lemsip cold and flu tablets there. He’s doing better at school and my cold cleared up in no time – I’d say that was £4 well spent.
The argument from the very frugal against Poundland is that you can get some of the products cheaper elsewhere – which is probably true – but not under one roof. They also say that you end up spending more because you buy more than you need. Again possibly true, you do need to exercise some discipline.
So as you see, I’m a fan. But how about you? Are you in favour of the pile-it-high, sell-it-cheap philosophy – or is Poundland just a blight on the British high street?