Business Irish

Tuesday 17 September 2019

Dealz or no-deal - Brexit will not slow retailer's expansion plans

 

Dealz at Wexford Retail Park
Dealz at Wexford Retail Park
Ellie Donnelly

Ellie Donnelly

Discount retail chain Dealz is pressing ahead with opening new stores here, despite the increasing threat of a no-deal Brexit, according to Barry Williams, its managing director.

"You look at all the headlines [in Ireland] and it feels like there's a real negativity, with lots of challenges and concerns, and that I appreciate," he said.

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"But Dealz [is] doing well, swimming against the tide; investing, creating jobs. And whatever happens with Brexit, the Monday morning after it, shops will be open, customers will be looking for products, they will be looking for value, and our job is to provide that to them," he added.

The group, which operates 66 stores across Ireland, hopes to open another 10 shops here next year.

Meanwhile, it has clear contingency plans in the event that the UK crashes out of the European Union without a deal; something Mr Williams said would be "the worst outcome from a business perspective".

Three of the biggest challenges facing UK businesses in the event of a hard Brexit are in the areas of migrant workforce, the movement of goods and increased tariffs.

The company has worked "really hard" to ensure its colleagues are secure in their employment with the group.

"In terms of the movement of goods and congestion at ports, it's the supply chain, and if there is going to be congestion and it is going to lengthen your supply chain, you build more stock at both ends of it," Mr Williams said.

He added that the firm benefits from the fact it does not sell much fresh produce. He said: "If I had a business selling a lot of fresh food that I was expecting to come in from Europe, I would be very concerned, but we don't."

In addition, if the UK does crash out and it goes to World Trade Organisation tariffs, the company is clear on what they look like.

"That represents another challenge to us in making sure our business is efficient, so we don't pass that cost on to our customers. And while that will be a challenge, we'll get on with it," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Williams said parent company Pepkor Europe is "an attractive proposition" amid rumours about a possible flotation of the business. The group's owner, South African company Steinhoff International Holdings, is mulling options for Pepkor, including a possible initial public offering or sale as early as next month.

Such reports were "purely speculation" at this stage, Mr Williams said, adding that there was "nothing" he could add about them.

"What I would say is Pepkor Europe is a very attractive proposition. We've got three retail brands, from Poundland, Dealz and Pepkor in eastern Europe, that are all performing extremely well in the market. So I think it's understandable that there is speculation about this business because it is an attractive proposition," he added.

Irish Independent

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