Poundland has doubled the size of its core ambient grocery range to nearly 200 permanent SKUs.

It now stocks a total of 62 grocery brands, 28 of which are new, such as Discovery's Mexican lines.

"A feature of the recession has been that customers of all types have spent more on essential items and less on discretionary items," said CEO Jim McCarthy. "We listen to customers, who tell us that they want to see a better range of essential items, like food."

Poundland would continue to stock one-off deals provided by suppliers, so the real amount of ambient grocery was likely to be much larger, added McCarthy.

A range of chilled products, such as milk and sandwiches, was also being rolled out to all of Poundland's 270 stores.

McCarthy, who was Sainsbury's head of convenience before taking the helm at Poundland, said he was committed to providing a strong grocery range despite margins being lower than on some of its other products because it was proving so popular with consumers.

"We are still a general merchandise retailer but we have to provide what customers want," said McCarthy. "Food is a footfall driver for us people recognise the value immediately."