Consumer sector comment – September 2010


Last week Jim McCarthy, the CEO of Poundland, spoke at our latest retail breakfast in Birmingham.

We are now entering the crucial run up to Christmas trading and never has value been so important to consumers. Nowhere is value better exemplified than in the proposition put forward by Poundland – where everything still costs £1.

Jim is a great story teller and he gave us some of his valuable time to share his guiding principles in building the Poundland proposition and team, which is currently delivering an intense store opening programme and an outstanding performance in what are difficult trading times for retailers.

Here are a few of Jim’s top tips:

  1. Know your customer and their shopping patterns, introducing ‘must have’ items at the till point means Poundland shoppers will spend an extra pound
  2. Newness and innovation, constantly refreshing the offer and re-inventing old favourites year on year will ensure you always achieve your sales target
  3. Listen to your team, they have all the answers if you trust them and take the time to ask the questions
  4. Live your values, identify what defines and informs all you do and live it everyday with customers and staff alike
  5. Stick with the knitting, have a clear strategy – Everything is a Pound – and don’t get distracted.

Poundland has two clear customers groups, the lower income who need to shop there and the better off who choose to. Following Jim’s top tips ensures the business meets the needs of both groups and there is no reason why they should not be applied to any customer facing business to great effect.


Clearwater’s Consumer team has advised Dwell, the contemporary furniture and home accessories retailer, on securing a £5 million equity investment from independent private equity house, Key Capital Partners, and which will allow the company to fund its nationwide expansion strategy. Dwell now plans to launch 33 new high street outlets over the next four years – taking its total number of UK stores to 52 by 2014. Originally founded as a mail-order furniture business in 2003 by entrepreneur Aamir Ahmad, the company has grown from a single store in Balham, London, into one of the UK’s most fashionable multi-channel furniture retailers.

Unilever plc is to acquire the Alberto Culver Company, a Illinois-based consumer beauty products company for approximately USD 3.7 billion. Alberto Culver brand portfolio, which includes TRESemmé, VO5, Nexxus, St. Ives and Simple, will complement Unilever’s existing portfolio of brands in hair and skincare like Dove, Clear, Sunsilk, Pond’s and Vaseline.

Landmark Group has acquired Carluccio’s plc, a London-based Italian restaurant operator for just over £90 million. Landmark Group is one of the largest retail conglomerates in the Middle East and India with sales of USD 3.2 billion generated from a diverse portfolio of retail and hospitality brands.

PZ Cussons plc has acquired St Tropez, the Nottingham, UK-based tanning products retailer, from Lloyds TSB Development Capital (LDC) for £62.5 million on a cash and debt free basis. LDC backed a management buy-out of the business in 2006 for a reported £70 million.

McBride plc has acquired Dermacol AS, a Prague, Czech Republic-based manufacturer and retailer of cosmetics, from Alphaduct AS. McBride is a leading European provider of private label household and personal care products to retailers with sales of approximately £800 million.

A UK premium holiday park owner, Lifestyle Living Group, has rescued a number of Lincolnshire holiday destinations by buying three caravan parks out of administration. The three are The Little Haven Caravan Park, The Willows Caravan Park and The White Horse Caravan Park. Lifestyle Living is seeking further acquisitions.

Confetti Network, which was placed in administration in August, has been acquired by Confetti Celebrations, a new company formed by George Buchan. Confetti Network was sold earlier this year by Findel plc, the listed multi-channel retailer, to The Hut Group, the award winning e-commerce group.

Snow & Rock Sports, an outdoor sports equipment retailer based in Guildford, has been sold to private equity house LGV for an undisclosed amount, with debt provided by Lloyds Bank and Investec. LGV acquired a majority stake in Snow & Rock, while the management team, headed by Dion Taylor, will hold between 10 and 20 per cent and Andrew Brownsword, the previous owner, will retain a minority stake in the company. Shortly before the transaction the company acquired Runners Need, a London-based sports equipment retailer.

Luke Johnson, the chairman of Risk Capital Partners and former chairman of Channel 4 Television, has acquired stakes in two restaurant groups. These are a 58 per cent stake in Ego Group, the ‘Ego’ chain of restaurants from private equity firm LDC, and a 92.5 per cent stake in Feng Sushi, a London-based restaurant operator. Luke Johnson has other interests in the restaurant sector including Giraffe restaurants and Patisserie Valerie, and was previously chairman of PizzaExpress.

Dunham Leisure, a Lancaster, UK-based holiday park operator, has undergone a management buy-in transaction with private equity funding by RJD Partners and bank finance by Yorkshire Bank. Members of the new management team include Graham Hodgson and Bev Dixon, who led a private-equity funded buy-out of South Lakeland Parks in June 2006 and sold it for £125 million 18 months later. Dunham Leisure owns Thurston Manor, a 600-pitch park in the Lammermuir Hills near Dunbar and also owns Pease Bay caravan park on the Berwickshire coast.