‘My rise from market stall to £1 shop tycoon’

Chris Edwards, of Poundworld.  Picture by Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian
Chris Edwards, of Poundworld. Picture by Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian
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It’s the story of one man’s rise from a market stall trader to being at the helm of a multi-million pound shop empire.

Poundworld entrepreneur Chris Edwards has written about his journey from Wakefield Market to being in charge of 300 stores nationwide.

Bargain Centre, top of Wastgate, Wakefield.'Opened in 1974 by entrepreneur Chris edwards and his brother Laurence.

Bargain Centre, top of Wastgate, Wakefield.'Opened in 1974 by entrepreneur Chris edwards and his brother Laurence.

The premise of ‘In For A Pound’ sounds rather like Del Boy Trotter’s rags to riches story.

And Mr Edwards, 65, doesn’t shy away from the inevitable comparison with the managing director of Trotters Independent Trading Co.

He said: “I talk with affection about Del Boy. I actually refer to Del Boy in the introduction to set the scene. He was out there, ducking and diving, trying to earn a living.”

The book has been co-authored by Stafford Hildred, the man behind a biography of Only Fools and Horses star Sir David Jason. Mr Edwards was contacted about doing a book after appearing in the Pound Shop Wars TV series.

Front cover of 'In For a Pound' by Chris Edwards and Stafford Hildred

Front cover of 'In For a Pound' by Chris Edwards and Stafford Hildred

But for Peckham read the old market hall, off Brook Street, where a teenage Mr Edwards cut his trading teeth working on his mum and dad’s stall.

Mr Edwards, who hails from Stanley, said: “I started on my own on Wakefield Market in about 1968. In 1974 my brother, Laurence, and I opened our first shop, Bargain Centre at the top of Westgate. I worked on the market up until 1980.”

More Bargain Centres opened in Bradford and Barnsley but rapid expansion didn’t happen overnight.

Mr Edwards added: “We never intended we were going to open one shop and then get to 300 shops. We never really planned anything. When you are an entrepreneurial person you take opportunities at they come up.”

The springboard for change happened about 17 years ago when Mr Edwards’ son, Chris Jnr, entered the family business. They went into the single-price market with an enterprise called Everything a Pound, the forerunner of Poundworld.

The empire expanded further with the advent of retails parks. Mr Edwards said: “The recession kicked in and that opened up opportunities. It caused the demise of several big retailers. All these shops were closing and it opened a gap in the retail world to step into.”

The result was a single-price shopping chain with more than 300 stores across the UK. In 2015 Mr Edwards sold 75 percent of it to an American firm for £150m. But the grandad-of-five remains firmly at the helm. He said: “At the moment I’m ploughing on. I’ve just passed 50 years since I started and I haven’t had a change of job ever since!”

In for a Pound costs £16.99 in hard back. Any proceeds for Mr Edwards will go towards a charity campaigning against child cruelty.

Picture of Poundworld boss Chris Edwards courtesy of Gabriel Szabo/Guzelian