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Retail

Discounter Pepco Has All Of Europe In Its Sights

Pepco Group, which owns British discount retailer Poundland, has targeted 400 store openings across Europe in its 2020-21 financial year as it expands its PEPCO brand beyond central and eastern Europe, its boss said on Friday.

The group opened a net 327 new stores in its 2019-20 year, taking the total to 3,021 in 15 countries.

The PEPCO brand entered western Europe for the first time with openings in Italy and it plans its first foray into Spain in April or May.

'Super Well'

Chief executive Andy Bond said its five stores in Italy have traded 'super well' so far.

"That's given us a lot of confidence that we can now start building PEPCO into western Europe and that expands our market opportunity from roughly 100 million people (in central and eastern Europe) to roughly 500 million people," he told Reuters.

To further illustrate the brand's potential he noted that the group has more than 1,000 PEPCO shops in Poland, which has a significantly smaller population and gross domestic product than Italy or Spain.

The company, which also owns the Dealz brand in Europe but does not trade online, has already opened more than 100 of the targeted 400 new stores this financial year.

Strategic Options

Pepco Group is part of South African conglomerate Steinhoff. Since 2019, Steinhoff and its creditors have been evaluating a range of strategic options for Pepco Group, including a potential public listing, private equity sale or trade sale.

That process was delayed by the pandemic, but Steinhoff said last month that it had resumed.

"The business will be up for sale at the right time. It's a case of when, rather than if," said Bond, a former boss of British supermarket chain Asda.

Pepco Group on Friday reported a 31% drop in full-year core earnings, citing temporary coronavirus-related store closures.

Underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were €229 million ($277 million) for the year to 30 September, against €331 million the previous year.

Sales rose 3% to €3.5 billion, reflecting new store openings.

News by Reuters, edited by ESM. Click subscribe to sign up to ESM: European Supermarket Magazine.

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