Poundland profits up on slump

EUROPE&rsquo;S largest single price discounter, Poundland, will today prove that it is continuing to buck the retail gloom and report a 47 per cent jump in annual operating profit.<br /><br />The group said for the year to 29 March operating profit rose to &pound;11.8m from &pound;8m the year before. And earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization lifted by 27 per cent to &pound;20m. Like-for-like sales also rose by 2.1 per cent.<br /><br />The &pound;1 store has seen a jump in interest as cash-strapped shoppers search for the best bargains on the high street. The group said it now has over 800 branded lines available in store, such as Maxwell House, Kelloggs, Heinz, Pampers and Mr Muscle, and is looking to increase its portfolio.<br /><br />Chief executive Jim McCarthy said that branded suppliers were more eager to work with the retailer because supermarkets were developing their own range of discount lines.<br /><br />He said: &ldquo;Now major grocers are pushing their own brands the relevance of Poundland to branded suppliers has never been greater.&rdquo;<br /><br />McCarthy added the group was lifted further by rival Woolworth&rsquo;s demise. He added: &ldquo;It&rsquo;s a double-edged sword. On one side it would be better to have a prosperous high street with greater consumer spending. But we are filling the gap Woolworth&rsquo;s left very well, particularly in the confectionary market.&rdquo;<br /><br />The group has so far taken on eight ex-Woolworth&rsquo;s sites and 150 staff. McCarthy said the group was currently in negotiations with landlords about more prime sites, taking the anticipated total number of stores to 250 nationwide for the year. The group opened 41 new stores over the last 12 months.