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Speculation continues to mount that Poundland owner could sell British businesses

PUBLISHED: 15:32 03 January 2018 | UPDATED: 15:32 03 January 2018

One of the Poundland stores in St Stephens Street, Norwich.
PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

One of the Poundland stores in St Stephens Street, Norwich. PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY

Speculation continues to mount that Poundland’s owner could sell its British businesses after two stablemates secured a loan to replace investment that was supposed to come from the retailer’s scandal-hit parent firm, Steinhoff.

Harveys and Bensons for Beds said in a statement that a “two-year independent finance facility” will support the future growth of both businesses as well as a manufacturing division with factories in Bridgend, Huntingdon and Taunton.

It will replace Steinhoff’s unspecified planned investment “in full”, the pair said, and was struck through Pepkor, the main Steinhoff umbrella group in Europe.

It comes amid mounting speculation that Steinhoff’s British assets, which also include Poundland, could be sold.

Ratings agency Moody’s warned last week that Steinhoff may not have sufficient funds to “sustain its European operations”.

Steinhoff was plunged into crisis last month after revelations of accounting irregularities linked to its 2016 accounts, although on Tuesday the group said the issues could run even further back.

The initial disclosure triggered a share price collapse, a management overhaul, lenders deserting the firm and credit insurance being withdrawn from its operating companies.

Stuart Machin, group chief executive of Harveys and Bensons for Beds, said: “Harveys, Bensons for Beds and our manufacturing businesses have always been run independently and for British customers.

“This new finance facility will allow us to continue to build on the progress we’ve made in the last few months.”

Despite the calamity at the parent company, Mr Machin said that both brands had a good Christmas.

“We face the new year with new confidence, focused on delivering great customer service and stylish, quality products at great value prices, executing our transformation plan for Harveys and continuing with our plans to manufacture even more of our great products in the UK,” he said.

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