Middle class shoppers flock to Poundland

Emma Woollacott
Scottish independence referendum
Scottish independence referendum

More than half of shoppers at discount store Poundland are now middle class, the company has revealed.

Reporting the company's half-year results, Poundland chief executive Jim McCarthy said that 54% of the stores customers now come from the top ABC1 social category. And, he said, the number is 'accelerating'.

"As the structural changes in UK retail continue to redraw the landscape, we are building our reputation for offering amazing value every day to our customers and substantially broadening our appeal," he said.

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Sales have risen 15% over the last six months, during which time the company has launched its first celebrity-endorsed product range, called Jane Asher's Kitchen, of cake mixes and baking accessories. Poundland has sold five million items of her branded bakeware and ingredients so far - including 100,000 packets of sprinkles. It's now looking for other celebrity partners.

It's also been stocking more premium products, including healthy nuts, hair accessories and has even launched a nail bar. And it's stocking up with chocolates from Dairy Box and Guylian.

Even Tatler magazine has declared itself a fan - and, in a blind test carried out by Vogue, its Make-Up Gallery range beat Chanel. The range went on to sell out almost immediately. "We were going to roll out the range to all of our stores, but had to limit that to 300 [shops] because it exceeded our purchasing plan, and that's a great place to be," said McCarthy.

And the company's expecting to do even better over the next three months, when customers looking for Christmas bargains give it half its annual sales.

Middle-class shoppers are now flocking to discount stores such as Aldi and Lidl, tempted by bargains such as £5 lobster and £10 champagne. Research from Ask Jeeves earlier this year revealed that around 40% of people earning more than £50,000 a year shop at discount stores.

After opening 28 new outlets in the last six months, Poundland currently has 556 stores across the UK and Ireland, but plans to increase that to 1,000 long-term, with 60 new shops planned this year. McCarthy said the company had hoped to open an online store in time for Christmas, but was now putting it off until later.

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