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Poundland reveals strong festive trading figures

Poundland has trumpeted record Christmas sales as it bolsters the case for a potential £800m float on the London Stock Exchange.

The discount retailer, which sells a cornucopia of products ranging from biscuits to dog food and washing-up liquid, said total sales increased 12.4% to £348.8m in the three months to 31 December.

Its chief executive, Jim McCarthy, said the retailer won new trade over the Christmas period as even well-heeled shoppers turned to its stores for low-cost decorations, Advent calenders and stocking fillers. "Poundland's single price point and our amazing value clearly resonated with shoppers everywhere," he said.

Poundland, which is controlled by private equity group Warburg Pincus, is understood to be seeking a stock market valuation of £700m-£800m with some analysts predicting it will debut as soon as March with investment banks and advisers already in situ to oversee the process.

Poundland did not give a like-for-like sales figure – a key measure that strips out new store openings – but said the important Christmas period was strong, with record sales achieved in the five weeks to 5 January. Its bestselling lines included 1.2m advent calenders and 750,000 Christmas gifts for pets.

The discount chain has filled the gap left by the demise of Woolworths and sees scope to double in size to 1,000 stores. In the Republic of Ireland it trades as Dealz.

Poundland's success has been underpinned by the middle classes, who turned to discounters, including Aldi and Lidl, to save money during the recession and have not looked back. In the year to 31 March 2013 Poundland made pre-tax profits of £23.1m on sales of £880m.

McCarthy said one in five of its shoppers are now drawn from the AB demographic. "There are structural changes under way in consumer shopping behaviour and I'm very pleased that Poundland continues to play a leading role in the growth of the discount sector."

The chain is one of a growing band of privately held retailers looking to cash in on the recovery in the IPO market this year, with fashion chain Fat Face and Pets at Home among the other hopefuls.

Source : Zoe Wood - theguardian.com
www.theguardian.com/business/2014/jan/23/poundland-discount-retailer-record-christmas-sales-float

23 January 2014
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