All hail Poundland

Poundland reported yet more record results this week proving that there really is nothing standing in the way of its rapid expansion throughout the UK. Its success, however, does not rest on its prices alone.


The pound store chain reported a 21.6% rise in revenue for the past year, a 2.3% rise in like-for-like sales and a 27% rise in profit.

There was a time, not that long ago, when all but the most price-pressured consumers would turn their nose up at the concept of shopping in pound shops.

Not anymore. The stigma of shopping in Poundland has all but dissolved. Shoppers you would normally assume to be Waitrose and John Lewis customers are also stepping over its threshold.

This isn’t just because of the economic pressures on consumers’ wallets, but because Poundland is a damn good retailer.

It offers a vast range of products, many of them household brands, a simple and clear value proposition, and possibly unexpectedly it offers great in-store service.

Yes, its stores can look a touch on the wild side at 4pm on a Saturday afternoon, but despite preconceptions held by many, its in-store service often far exceeds expectations.

I know this from personal experience. I recently needed to source 20 feather boas – predictably for a hen do – without breaking the bank. When online retailers failed to come up with the goods, I turned to Poundland. From its website I knew that it stocked what I was looking for but my local store didn’t have it.

I called another branch barely even expecting the phone to get picked up, but to my surprise, the staff member on the other end helpfully, and quickly, went to the shop floor, checked it had the items in stock and counted how many. He then reserved them for me until I could come in at the weekend. As promised a batch of bright pink feather boas was waiting for me that Saturday.

Every single member of staff I encountered either by phone, or in-store, was helpful and polite and gave me the kind of service many consumers only expect from John Lewis.
The result? Happy bride, happy hens – pink feathers everywhere.

It also taught me the lesson that there is much more to Poundland than its prices and reminded me that the power of word of mouth marketing cannot be underestimated.

Poundland has on the whole relied on word of mouth to do the job of its marketing, which means that if real customers’ experiences in its stores are bad, its reputation and in turn its performance will suffer.

Far too often customers go into shops, ask for assistance only to be met with blank ‘computer says no’ expressions from staff who simply cant be bothered to check in the store room, or contact another store to solve the customer’s problem. An experience that can only damage the perception the retailer has built up through expensive marketing campaigns.

Where other retailers spend vast sums on clever marketing telling customers what the brand stands for and what to expect from stores, then they must also be prepared to make sure that the reality lives up to it.

Poundland has the basics right – something no retailer should forget.

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