Chris Edwards

Most of OneBelow’s first stores will be in former Poundworld sites, says Edwards

Poundworld founder Chris Edwards has named the locations of the first stores in his new variety discounter chain OneBelow.

The first branches will be in Leeds, Bradford, Wakefield, Glasgow and Irvine, Edwards said this week. The chain, where everything will cost £1 or less, is also due to open two stores in London.

The first, in Leeds, is due to open at the end of February while the other six should begin trading by the end of March.

Edwards’ aim is to open stores at a rate of up to four a week, with a target of 100 within year one. They will sell over 4,000 products including fmcg, he told The Grocer.

The first locations included sites previously occupied by Poundworld, which Edwards controlled before selling the business for £150m in 2015, he said. Recruits included former staff of the defunct discounter.

“We’ve had a good response from landlords we’ve dealt with historically,” said Edwards, who set up Poundworld in 1974. “We’re lining shops up and most of them are going to be Poundworld sites.

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“They vary in size but generally we’re looking at 4,000 to 5,000 sq ft. We’re not doing any 10,000 sq ft big sheds.”

The business also has a 270,000 sq ft warehouse in Barnsley, South Yorkshire, where it is headquartered.

Recruits include Darron Hitchcock, a former Poundworld divisional operations manager, now an area manager at OneBelow. Damon Clarke, former Poundworld head of retail operations, has taken the same position at OneBelow. 

Store managers have also been recruited and the businesses is looking to fill a number of other posts including HR manager and payroll manager.

Edwards was CEO for Poundstretcher in 2017 and a bidder to save Poundworld stores after the chain collapsed into administration in June last year.

He thinks OneBelow’s name and strategy, of having multiple price points up to £1, will give it an advantage over the single-price pound shop model by allowing lower value items to be sold without confusing customers.  

“It just leaves us that little bit more flexibility,” he explained in December.