Published On: Tue, Jul 10th, 2018

Founder’s fears for Poundworld | City & Business | Finance

Chris Edwards, who started the business on a Wakefield market stall in 1974 before selling a majority stake to US private equity firm TPG Capital in a £150million deal three years ago, had tabled a deal to save 186 stores, along with 3,000 jobs.

But despite contacting the administrator four weeks ago, Edwards’ team only got access to Poundworld’s Normanton headquarters in West Yorkshire in the last few days to assess stock levels and begin talks with their bank Santander.

Administrators Deloitte said last week it had provided details to help bidders, but no party had presented a “credible and acceptable bid with confirmation of funding”.

Edwards countered yesterday: “I’ve made a substantial and credible offer, which is the best we can put forward, but it hasn’t been given the respect it deserves.

“Although it was close to what the administrator wants, we’ve had written confirmation that it’s not enough, which I’m shocked and surprised at, considering we were going to save 3,000 jobs.

“You have to consider the moral argument in this and the fact that people’s livelihoods are on the line and clearly it appears that doesn’t matter. It seems that selling off all the stock and closing the stores is a better option.

“The amount of extra money the administrator is holding out for is a drop in the ocean when you consider how much will be needed to stabilise the business and replenish stock, which is where the real costs will be and that’s why we can’t increase our offer.

“I now believe the business will close rather than jobs being saved.”

Mothercare is to cut 900 jobs, 100 more than previously announced, after increasing its store closure programme from 50 to 60. The babywear and products retailer also plans to raise £32.5million through selling new shares to existing investors.

Chief executive Mark Newton-Jones said: “We have seen an unprecedented period for UK retail and have not been alone in facing strong headwinds.

“We have exciting plans ahead to revitalise the brand through enhancing our product ranges, improving our design and value, developing our digital and multi-channel proposition and investing in our people.”

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