Poundstretcher - with stores in Chatteris and Wisbech - to decide which of its outlets may close

Part of the mothballed out of town Tesco that became a Poundstretcher superstore, Chatteris. Photo:

Part of the mothballed out of town Tesco that became a Poundstretcher superstore, Chatteris. Photo: Harry Rutter - Credit: Archant

Bargain chain Poundstretcher, with stores in Wisbech and Chatteris, could shut more than half its shops unless it secures a rent deal.

The discount retailer is using a CVA, a company voluntary agreement, to slash rents by up to 40 per cent at 84 stores.

The future of a further 253 of its 450 shops will be decided ‘depending on the commercial merits of each store’, after a six-week negotiation period with landlords, its restructuring partner KPMG said.

In April Poundstretcher become the latest retailer to kick off a review of its finances despite being one of the few non-food chains to continue trading during lockdown.

It kept many of its stores open because of selling some essential items such as medicines.

Two years ago, Poundstretcher moved into Chatteris, taking a 21,000 square foot unit in a vacant super store originally built for Tesco.

Tesco gained permission for the £22million superstore on Fenland Way in 2012 and promised 250 jobs for Chatteris.

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Two years later the building was complete, and everything was ready to go ahead.

But in January 2015 the company announced they were pulling out of the project.

The store became one of 49 called off by Tesco following a downturn in financial fortunes.

Poundstretcher, occupying only half the size originally planned for Tesco, left 26,500 square feet of space still looking for a prospective tenant. That was later taken by Jack’s, the new discount arm of Tesco.

Early visitors to Poundstretcher in Chatteris were impressed.

“It is one of the biggest Poundstretchers’ I have ever seen,” said an early customer, clearly overwhelmed by how far her tenner might stretch.

Another early arrival headed for some of the store’s eclectic treasure: “It has bargain prices for meal worms for my birds” she said.

Another customer batted the question of image and whether his friends and neighbours would be happy being seen amidst the myriad of bargain buys.

“My advice to them and anyone else is simple,” he said. “Get over here and get looking because once you get here you’ll find an awful lot more than you think.”

Another felt it “will make shopping a lot better for a lot of people – it saves going to Tesco” – which is ironic.