Celebrity baker Asher opens Poundland's 500th store

Actress and baker Jane Asher was in Birmingham today for the opening of Poundland's 500th store.

Jane Asher was at the opening of the 500th Poundland store in Birmingham
Jane Asher was at the opening of the 500th Poundland store in Birmingham

The middle-class icon has joined forces with the £1-for-everything chain to launch a new range of bakeware early next year in Poundland's first-ever celebrity tie-in.

It underlines the chain's growing attraction to the so-called 'squeezed middle' as better-off families have joined the queues at budget stores in the pursuit of a good deal

Today Jane Asher was signing autographs as Poundland opened its 500th store in Corporation Street.

The landmark store is expected to create up to 42 new jobs and will cover more than 7,000 square foot of retailing space, providing shoppers in the centre of Birmingham with Poundland’s full range of good, from food and drink, health and beauty, household, gardening, DIY, pet, stationery, books, DVDs and toys as well as 0ver 1000 well known brands.

This opening is the latest highlight in a recent expansion drive which will see 21 new Poundland stores open in just five weeks in the run-up to Christmas. The growth spurt has created more than 500 new jobs.

Based in Willenhall and with a major depot in Bilston - together employing around 750 people - Poundland has grown rapidly since its first store opened in Burton on Trent in 1990, with the business now reporting annual sales close to £1 billion, with over 12,000 staff .

Chief executive Jim McCarthy, said: “It’s an honour to celebrate the opening of our 500th store. I strongly believe that our customer base – which has expanded to 5 million every week – keep coming back because we have stayed firmly to the principles established when we opened our first store in 1990; namely helpful and friendly staff offering top brands at amazing value every day.

"With 21 new store openings during November and December we’re going from strength to strength.”

Poundland is also recruiting 2,500 temporary staff nationwide to cope with the rush this Christmas. Mr McCarthy, who is currently working on plans to expand into Europe under the Dealz brand name, has said he has a target of 1,000 Poundland stores across the UK.

Meanwhile, plans are currently being drawn up to float the company on the stock market next year, which will raise cash for the expansion plans.

To celebrate the 500th store Poundland will be offering staff and customers the chance to win a new Seat Ibiza when they spend £1 or more in store. Shoppers will be given a code on their purchase receipt which they will need to enter at www.poundland.co.uk/500 for the chance to win.