Strong Christmas sales lift UK's Poundland float prospects
LONDON Jan 23 (Reuters) - British single price discount retailer Poundland posted record Christmas sales, as shoppers stocked up on 1 pound advent calendars, novelty jewellery and gifts for pets, potentially boosting the firm's price tag in a London share sale.
In November, the 517-store Poundland, majority owned by private equity group Warburg Pincus, picked investment banks Credit Suisse and JP Morgan to advise it on a flotation that is expected to value the firm at 700-800 million pounds ($1.16-$1.33 billion), two people familiar with the matter said.
One of them said on Thursday it was increasingly likely Poundland would press the button on a London listing in the first quarter of 2014.
The firm said total sales rose 12.4 percent to 348.8 million pounds in the 13 weeks to Dec. 31, driven by new store openings as well as growth in existing stores.
Poundland sold 20 million chocolate bars, 1.2 million advent calendars, 750,000 Christmas gifts for pets and 300,000 novelty Christmas jewellery items.
"We served more customers in more parts of the UK and Ireland than ever before," said Chief Executive Jim McCarthy.
Poundland is 76 percent owned by Warburg Pincus, with the balance owned by the retailer's management, led by McCarthy, a 30-year veteran of the retail sector.
The firm is targeting a doubling of its British stores to over 1,000 as well as expansion in Europe.