Steve Smith and Keith Smith

Source: Steve Smith

Poundland founders Steve and Keith Smith

Tributes have been paid to Poundland co-founder Keith Smith, who has died after a short battle with lung cancer, aged 79.

He co-founded Poundland with his son Steve Smith in 1990, and the pair grew the chain to over 70 stores before selling it for £50m in 2002.

“Dad came up with the idea of selling every item for £1,” Steve told The Grocer.

Keith grew up and attended school in Willenhall, and in a 2015 interview with the Express & Star credited receiving the cane during a times-tables lesson with giving him the drive to be an entrepreneur.

After leaving school he worked as an apprentice draughtsman, before running a market stall and then Hooty’s cash & carry in Willenhall. The business supplied market traders and value retailers including Keith’s son, who opened his first store – Steve’s Discount Market – in West Bromwich aged 18.

Keith died at home in Claverley, Shropshire, on 12 August – four days before his 80th birthday.

“I’m just proud to be his son,” said Steve. “Hooty’s at the time was the biggest cash & carry in Europe and with Poundland, 85% of the population have now either been to or bought from a pound shop.”

After selling Poundland, Steve went on to set up, the business he sold to Poundland earlier this year and which has become the platform for the latter’s e-commerce plans.

Poundland MD Barry Williams said: “It was sad news for everyone here at Poundland to hear Keith had passed away.

“The fact the business he founded 30-plus years ago with his son Steve continues to thrive, is frankly the best tribute any of us could make to him.

“His entrepreneurial spirit is rightly legendary – and the vision that led him from Bilston market to the first Poundland in Burton-on-Trent, and then the sale of a tremendous business 12 years later, will remain an inspiration for all of us here at Poundland for years to come.

“Keith’s legacy is immense – establishing a business that continues to drive down the cost of living for ordinary families in 2022. It deserves its own place in British retail history.”