Poundland to open more Pep&Co outlets as it takes on Primark


Poundland is to accelerate the rollout of Pep&Co fashion outlets within its existing stores as the retailer ramps up competition with rival Primark.

The expansion drive, part of its aim to become a "major high street fashion player",  will see it open 91 Pep&Co stores by June, putting it on course to have a total of 330 by the middle of the year.

Poundland said the move would help elevate it to a "top 15" clothing retailer by volume alongside the likes of River Island, Top Man, Asos and Peacocks if expected sales were reached.

Prices at Pep&Co's 200-plus stores in the UK start at £1 and 95% of the range is £10 or under, rivalling Primark on price.

Poundland's UK & Ireland managing director Barry Williams said: "We're working flat out to make sure as many Poundland shoppers have access to Pep&Co by this summer.

"Pep&Co gives shoppers a major new reason to shop in our stores that we already know is a hit with our customers."

According to accounts filed at Companies House, Pep & Co's holding company Pepkor UK booked a pre-tax loss of £18.9 million in 2016 on sales of £29 million.

The expansion also comes at a sensitive time for Poundland's owner Steinhoff, which was plunged into crisis last year after disclosures of irregularities linked to its 2016 accounts.

Poundland's European parent, Pepkor Europe, moved to calm suppliers in January by replacing planned investment from troubled Steinhoff with a £180 million independent loan facility.

The announcement comes following a horror show week for the retail sector, with Toys R Us and Maplin collapsing into administration on Wednesday, affecting more than 5,000 jobs.

Prezzo and New Look are also poised to shut stores through Company Voluntary Arrangements, following similar moves by Jamie's Italian and burger chain Byron earlier this year.

Retailers across the board have been hammered by weak consumer confidence off the back of soaring Brexit-fuelled inflation.