Wombwell Poundstretcher’s Andrex window display is not flushed with success
A few days ago, I blogged about how Poundstretcher in Newcastle needs to sell itself better in order to capitalise on the extra footfall generated by the opening of Discount UK opposite. I argued that the quality of Poundstretcher’s products, and its homewares in particular, is much higher than the shoddy advertising board and lacklustre store environment would lead shoppers to believe.
Sadly, presentation issues seem to permeate throughout the 350-strong chain. On Thursday last week I was touring South Yorkshire, and took the opportunity to visit the Poundstretcher in Wombwell, near Barnsley. The experience, I’m sorry to say, was very poor.
Externally, the shop at least ticks one box by featuring the latest Poundstretcher logo and fascia, which is increasingly replacing the disparate visual identities across the chain. However, the cluttered frontage of plastic containers and window posters offers neither an attractive shop window, nor views into the store. I was especially puzzled by the stacks of Andrex that filled the right-hand window – surely no-one can think that this creates an appealing first impression?
Inside, I was shocked by the state of the shop, which was generally untidy and had litter on the floor. Poundstretcher makes an unfortunate habit of piling display stock in the aisles as well as on the shelves, but much of the product on the floor here was in unpacked boxes. As well as making the shopfloor look like a stockroom, it would have been impossible for anyone with a pushchair or in a wheelchair to negotiate the store.
If the branches are holding more stock than they can physically store, this is a supply chain issue that Poundstretcher’s bosses need to tackle. In the meantime, Wombwell’s shoppers can be forgiven if they opt instead for the shiny, modernised Wilkinson store over the road.
Though Wombwell is an established Poundstretcher branch, a lot of the same flaws apply even to the newly opened branches – many of which are in former Woolworths locations. As well as the stores in Camborne and North Berwick that I’ve mentioned before, I’ve recently paid visits to the new stores in Tiverton (one of the ex-Woolies sites acquired from Alworths, and opened in May) and Melksham (the last former Woolworths site in Wiltshire to reopen, in September last year).
While these new stores benefit from being generally cleaner than the older shops in the estate, there are still issues with products cluttering the aisles and an excess of both goods and promotional posters in the shop windows. In contrast, modern variety store retailers such as Wilkinson, Discount UK and Home Bargains manage to combine a strong value offer with stores that are still clean, bright and appealing, both inside and facing the street.
Poundstretcher’s product is strong (yet currently undersold), and the retailer is finally getting to grips with the historically confused brand that sees page 1 of Google Image Search bring up six different logo variations. Clean, tidy and accessible shops are a retailing basic, however, and Poundstretcher could do worse than to learn from – and pay some Soult-style visits to – its shinier value competitors.