Tuesday 18 February 2014 8:18 pm

Poundland hires retail veterans to propel float

DISCOUNT retailer Poundland yesterday unveiled a heavyweight board lineup and its first female non-executive director as part of plans to float on London’s stock market next month.

The Birmingham-based company, which currently has around 500 stores, has recruited former Travelodge chief executive Grant Hearn and Merlin Entertainments group HR director Tea Colaianni, who will become the company’s first ever female board member.

They join former Carpetright chief executive Darren Shapland and Mondelez president Trevor Bond, who were revealed as new members of the boardroom on Monday.

“With (chairman) Andy Higginson there as well that’s a bloody good board line-up,” one source said.

The business yesterday fired the starting gun on its initial public offering of shares, which could value the company at about £700m, according to earning estimates.

“It’s a momentous day and the start of a new chapter for Poundland,” chief executive Jim McCarthy said.

The company and its banking advisers are due to meet around 200 institutional investors in the UK, US and Europe over the coming weeks to map out its plans for the business.

The company wants to grow to about 1,000 stores, opening roughly 60 new stores every year, and creating 1,500 to 1,800 new jobs a year.

It also laid plans to push further into Spain and cement its position in Ireland where it operates under the Dealz brand, selling items for €1.49.

“It’s a very cash generative business,” McCarthy said. “There’s hardly any debt in the business and our investment plans will mainly be coming out of cashflow.”

The IPO wil mark the beginning of the end for Poundland’s private equity ownership, with majority shareholders Warburg Pincus expected to sell half of their stake in the business through the float.

No new shares will be issued with the listing and management and directors, who own about 25 per cent, are expected to keep onto their holdings. Poundland was previously owned by another private equity firm, Advent International.


Poundland and its private equity backers Warburg Pincus used Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer corporate partner Mark Austin for legal advice.

Austin is a partner in Freshfields’ capital markets practice, where he advises corporate and investment bank clients on a host of capital raising and mergers and acquisition issues.

He has previously worked on various initial public offerings, including Arrow Global, Partnership, Fresnillo, QinetiQ, Britvic, and Virgin Mobile.

Other equity market deals Austin has worked on include the £5.8bn rights issue by Barclays and all three capital raisings by Lloyds between 2008 and 2009. He also worked on rights issues by Wolseley, DS Smith and Centrica.

M&A work has included advising BAE on its proposed merger with EADS, Canada Pension Plan Investment Board and Onex on their bid for Tomkins and GMG on its bid with Apax for Emap. Other work has included the re-domicile of WPP to the UK and the move to a premium listing of Entertainment One and C&C Group. Austin is also a member of the Primary Markets Group of the London Stock Exchange.