Page last updated at 17:00 GMT, Thursday, 10 September 2009 18:00 UK

Poundland to open six NI stores

Poundland store
Poundland is expanding despite the economic downturn

Poundland - which sells all its goods for £1 - is to open six new stores in Northern Ireland by Christmas.

The expansion will create 210 jobs. Its first store opens in Belfast's Castlecourt shopping centre next month.

It opens a second store in Lisburn later in October, followed by four more outlets in November.

The discount chain has thrived during the downturn as cash-strapped shoppers sought bargains at its 227 stores.

Chief Executive Jim McCarthy said they hoped to open more stores in Northern Ireland in the new year.

"We're Europe's biggest single discount retailer and have been operating for almost 20 years in England, Scotland and Wales," he said.

There are lots of discount stores in various formats, and I think people are quite proud to be able to save money
Jim McCarthy
Poundland chief executive

"The Northern Irish consumer is very similar in profile to those we are already serving - it's a great market and a logical step in our growth."

He said they would be selling locally-sourced goods such as milk in their stores, along with branded goods like Kelloggs, Pampers and Kodak.

"We have lots of brands - our stores are quality stores, they're usually bigger than the traditional pound shops and the shopping environment and ranges are better," he said.

"There's a common misconception that Poundland is a better business in a recession, but that's not correct - we're actually better when times are good but we are very robust and people do turn to us to save money."

Mr McCarthy said they had been attracting a more affluent clientele during the downturn.

"In the last 12 months, we've seen a 22% increase in AB shoppers who have traditionally had more disposable income but are becoming more shopping-savvy," he said.

"There are lots of discount stores in various formats, and I think people are quite proud to be able to save money.

"I remember going to dinner parties a few years ago where the topic of conversation was how much the value of their house had gone up - those days have gone, and now it's about how much money they've saved on their purchases."

Meanwhile, supermarket giant Asda has announced almost 400 temporary staff will be recruited over the Christmas period in Northern Ireland.

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