All change for Ireland as Poundland sets up shop


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The Independent Online

It's the one place on the high street where you never have to ask: "How much does this cost?" Whether it's a pregnancy test, a pair of reading glasses, a dozen batteries, a camping knife or a bottle of bleach, everything in Poundland will set you back just that – a pound.

In these testing times it is a formula that has helped the brand expand at a rate of knots while other high-street giants have struggled to keep up their footfall. Now the bosses behind the bargain chain hope to work the same magic on the Republic of Ireland with plans to open six new stores in a deal worth £1.7m as the beginning of a wider expansion into Europe.

Poundland is remaining tight-lipped on whether every item at the stores will cost one euro, currently the equivalent of 87p. But bosses have admitted that the brand name will not be Euroland, as they have opted instead for "Dealz".

"We can trademark the name Dealz whereas we can't with the one spent with an 's'," said Poundland's chief executive, Jim McCarthy, when asked yesterday whether the new name might cause a few groans amongst linguistic purists. "But we did research on both variants in the Republic and mainland Europe and 'Dealz' emerged the clear winner."

Retail analysts have also pointed out that the name Dealz allows Poundland to be more flexible about its pricing system, charging more than a euro if necessary. Mr McCarthy would not be drawn on pricing, citing that doing so would give his future competitors room to react to the firm's arrival.

The expansion will cap yet another year of impressive growth at a time when many high-street stores are struggling to encourage shoppers to loosen their purse strings. Poundland stores have been opening in the UK at the rate of one a week. There are now 347 stores nationwide serving 182m customers every year.

Part of Poundland's success is down to timing. The company was launched in 1990 by Steve Smith and Dave Dodd. At the time, most of the fixed-price stores were independently run and tended to be found in poorer towns and suburbs. By 2002 the chain had grown to a modest 70 stores when the founding partners sold out to a private equity firm. Then came the 2008 credit crunch, setting off the worst economic crisis in decades and forcing shoppers to become increasingly savvy about bargain hunting.

In the past two years the brand has drawn in increasing numbers of middle-class shoppers. Stores have been opening in well-heeled areas such as Twickenham, Cirencester and Windsor. "We have two different types of shoppers," said Mr McCarthy. "Those who need to shop with us and those who choose to do so. A few years back all the talk at parties was how much money you make off a property deal. Now it's all about deals and savings. People are proud about saving money and spending sensibly."