Poundland owner Pepco snubs London listing with £4bn Poland IPO

LaToya Harding
·Contributor
·3 min read
LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - 2021/03/18: A woman wearing a face mask walks past a branch of Poundland in London. (Photo by Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Management and shareholders opted for Poland due to its huge presence in the country. The first stores using the Pepco brand opened in Poland in 2004, and the country now has more than 1,000 outlets trading under the name. Photo: Dinendra Haria/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Pepco, the owner of Poundland, has announced its intention to list in Warsaw, snubbing London after months of deliberations about a flotation in the City.

The initial public offering (IPO), which is likely to take place in the coming months, will be valued at around €4.5bn (£3.9bn, $5.4bn), Sky News first reported.

Management and shareholders opted for Poland due to its huge presence in the country. The first stores using the Pepco brand opened in Poland in 2004, and the country now has more than 1,000 outlets trading under the name.

It trades from a total of more than 3,000 stores across 15 European markets, and employs well over 30,000 people.

Pepco Group, which is run by Andy Bond, former Asda chief executive, had initially planned to go public last year, and considered listings in both London and Warsaw.

Steinhoff International Holdings (SNH.F), Pepco's South Africa-based owner, said earlier this year that it was re-examining a flotation and that it expects post-pandemic economies to see greater demand for value-based chains.

According to Sky, a private equity takeover is also still a possibility, with significant interest having been expressed in the business last year by buyout firms including Advent International.

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At the turn of the year, Poundland announced that it would temporarily close dozens of its stores, replicating the measures it took during the first lockdown in March 2020.

The chain, which has been allowed to trade during the third national lockdown as it is an essential retailer, placed outlets across the UK into “hibernation”, due to a shortage of staff members.

The company said that around 800 stores would remain open and placed staff members in affected stores on furlough “where appropriate”, protecting those roles for future.

It has since brought 29 stores out of hibernation in February, and re-opened 43 on 12 April in England, Wales and the Republic of Ireland.

Although Poundland has been allowed to stay open throughout the coronavirus pandemic as it sells food, medicine and other essential goods, it reported an 80% slump in customers visiting some locations at shopping centres and high streets.

Austin Cooke, Poundland’s retail director, said at the time: "We learned valuable lessons during the lockdown in March about how buying patterns change as people stick to government advice to stay at home.

"Putting a small number of stores into hibernation helps protect them for the long term and focus our attention on the majority of stores that remain open to serve their neighbourhoods.

"We hope this lockdown is short and we can re-open our hibernating stores as quickly as possible and we remain grateful for the vital support schemes available to us that help protect jobs."

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