Poundland centre on track

An artist's impression of the new Poundland store set to open in Wigan
An artist's impression of the new Poundland store set to open in Wigan

A vast distribution centre set to open in Wigan providing a major jobs boost will not be affected by its parent company suffering a fall in profits.

Poundland is set to open its new site in Ashton next month but reported a major fall in its annual pre-tax profits earlier this week.

The firm said the recent integration of former rival 99p Stores had “naturally placed a strain on the core business” and its shares have slumped by a third in the past year.

But Wiganers have been assured the “challenging” year would have no impact on the distribution centre plans.

A spokesman told the Evening Post: “The cost of opening the Wigan facility has already been factored in so there will be no disruption or changes to any ongoing plans.”

This reassurance will be welcomed by industry leaders at the town hall as the 30,000m sq site on the South Lancs Industrial Estate is expected to produce around 800 jobs and be worth millions to the borough economy.

The facility will replace the former Georgia Pacific building which was gutted by fire in 2011 and operations are expected to start there from next month.

Deputy leader of Wigan Council, Coun David Molyneux hailed the Poundland deal as confirmation the borough was a “major player” in the Northern Powerhouse.

And the town hall has a legally binding pledge with the retailer that borough workers will get preference for the new roles.

Coun David Molyneux said: “We are looking forward to a successful working relationship with Poundland that will benefit the borough as a whole for many years.”

Speculation is rife that Poundland is a takeover target with South African retail group Steinhoff rumoured to be interested.

The firm, which owns UK furniture outlet Harveys and Bensons For Beds, revealed late on Wednesday that it had bought 61.2 million ordinary shares in the budget retailer.

Jim McCarthy, outgoing chief executive at Poundland, remained tight-lipped on the Steinhoff takeover interest but he assured traders the chain would “return to growth” under new boss Kevin O’Byrne, with the disruption of the 99p Stores takeover now behind it and all 235 stores converted.