The administrators of Poundworld have hit back at accusations thrown at them by the retailer’s founder Chris Edwards in regards to a rescue bid.
Edwards – who founded Poundworld in 1974 and sold it in 2015 – yesterday circulated a statement that accused Deloitte of not doing enough to respond to his bid to save the beleaguered retailer.
- Poundworld founder warns time is running out for rescue bid
- Poundworld staff given free sandwiches ahead of store closures
- Poundworld denied £4.1m business rates lifeline before collapse
- Poundworld begins closing down sale with no buyer in sight
- Poundworld: What went wrong (Part I)
- Poundworld: What went wrong (Part II)
Edwards said that despite contacting administrators from Deloitte four weeks ago, his team were only given access to Poundworld’s Normanton headquarters in the last few days to assess stock levels.
He also said that they have just been granted permission to start communicating with Poundworld’s bankers at Santander.
The founder warned that each day that passes means they’re moving further away from being able to save Poundworld.
He added that believed the administration process “has been handled badly”.
However, a Deloitte spokesperson said: “To date no party has presented a credible and acceptable bid with accompanying confirmation of funding.”
The firm said they were still looking for a buyer “of all or parts of the business”.
“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,” Deloitte said.
“In the interim, as one would expect in these circumstances, we are preparing for all eventualities as this process continues.”
US private equity firm TPG acquired a majority stake in Poundworld in 2015, when Edwards had built it to a high street chain of more than 300 stores around the country.
However, TPG called in administrators Deloitte earlier this month, plunging 5100 jobs at risk.
With almost 100 head office roles already set for the chop, Edwards yesterday reiterated his intention to save the retailer and confirmed plans to keep 186 Poundworld stores open, saving approximately 3000 jobs.
“It’s really sad to see the demise of Poundworld which was a highly profitable and thriving business when we sold it, but it’s been mismanaged and lost its way,” Edwards said in his statement yesterday.
“I can’t sit back and do nothing as so many people, lots of whom I know personally, risk losing their jobs.
“I firmly believe the firm could still be saved with a new management team, fresh stock and by turning the retailer back into a single price, traditional pound shop, rather than selling multi-price products.”
He added: “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 administrator’s fees and wages.”
Edwards said key members of Poundworld’s old management team were prepared to return if the rescue deal is done properly and they can save 3000 jobs.
“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.