Dave Dodd: The Austerity Entrepreneur

Poundland’s new owners, Warburg Pincus, have plans to turn the business into a big national high-street name with 800 outlets, the same size Woolworths was when it went bust. Dodd pocketed about £20m in the deal and is now set to go upmarket with his new retail venture: a chain of homeware stores called Hub, selling quality goods at affordable prices – rather like TK Maxx.

So how will he keep prices down? “I understand volume,” he says. “Most retailers start importing once they’ve got 20 stores up and running. I’ll be doing it far, far earlier.”

Dodd will also be cutting out central warehousing by consolidating products in the Far East and shipping them direct to UK stores. “What’s
the point of dragging a container of products 300 miles from the port to a warehouse, letting them sit there for a week, then delivering them another 300 miles to the store?” he asks. “It’s inefficient and it’s bad for the environment. Big businesses don’t beat small businesses. Fast businesses beat slow ones.”

Mark Advani, partner at Isis Equity Partners, says it’s a “sensible, achievable proposition I think Dodd can make it work. My advice is to lure customers in with a footfall driver, such as cheap groceries, then flog them a load of pillow-cases. I’ve met Dodd a few times – he’s a smart entrepreneur. I’d back him.”

The first Hub store opens in August in Telford (20 minutes from where Dodd lives). The second, in Manchester’s Arndale Centre, opens six weeks later. After Christmas, Dodd will be rolling out ten to 12 stores a year. Within 18 months, Dodd says most products will be own-brand.

“This isn’t a hobby business,” affirms Dodd. “Hub will stand up in its own right.”

You can follow Kate Pritchard on Twitter @KateEPea

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