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High Street

Deloitte hits back at Poundworld founder over rescue bid row

Deloitte has hit back at accusations made by Poundworld founder Chris Edwards over the handling of the company’s administration.
A statement circulated by Edwards yesterday said “the whole administration process has been handled badly” and he added if something doesn’t happen in the next few days, “the business will go to the wall”.

But a Deloitte spokesperson insisted the group is continuing “to seek a buyer of all or parts of the business”, but said to date no party has presented a “credible and acceptable bid”.

The spokesperson added: “We have provided guidance to indicate how a successful bid might be structured and have provided detailed information to assist bidders in an effort to help them wherever possible. In the interim, as one would expect in these circumstances, we are preparing for all eventualities as this process continues.”

Poundworld began to face difficulty after a rough Christmas trading period which prompted it to seek a Company Voluntary Agreement (CVA), only to abandon this after it received an expression of interest from a possible buyer. Later another buyer expressed interest and subsequently pulled out, meanwhile management mulled the closure of 117 stores and the possibility of collapse before appointing Deloitte as administrators.

Edwards, who originally sold the business in 2015 for £150m, said the “process has taken so long” that shops “are now holding closing-down sales and selling stock that isn’t being replenished”. He added that the task of saving the business has become more difficult as a result and has put “another nail in the coffin”.

He added: “It’s clear that the lack of action by the parties running the process has put jobs even more at risk but, when I’ve raised concerns over the timescale, they say their priority is to creditors, so it will be interesting to see how much cash is left after the administrators’ fees and wages. Which is so unnecessary when we have the desire and ability to save it.”

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