Poundworld founder Chris Edwards has reiterated his desire to safeguard more than half of the retailer’s stores and staff members, but warned administrators that they must act fast if they were to agree a rescue deal.
In a statement circulated today, Edwards confirmed that he was looking at keeping 186 Poundworld stores open, saving approximately 3000 jobs.
He 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.
Edwards founded Poundworld in 1974 and built it into a high street chain with more than 300 stores across the country.
US private equity firm TPG acquired a majority stake in the business in 2015, but the company called in administrators Deloitte earlier this month, plunging 5100 jobs at risk.
“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.
“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.”
Edwards added that he believed the administration process “has been handled badly”.
“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,” he said.
“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 warned that each day that passes means they’re moving further away from being able to save Poundworld.
“In the last week we’ve been allowed to start speaking to Santander who are working with us to try and agree a deal, subject to our own due diligence,” he said.
“We’ve also now visited Poundworld’s headquarters and seen how little stock there is available, which would make things even more difficult if we takeover.
“It would be a race against time to replenish stock levels enough to stabilise Poundworld.”
He 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.”