Pound shops are one of the fastest growing retail sectors, boosted by consumers keen to bag a bargain in economic hard times. This warm and witty documentary follows the extremely rapid expansion of two family-run retail businesses, as they both race to dominate the high street.
99p Stores Ltd is run by the dynamic Hussein Lalani and is based in Northampton. The family-run firm has 160 shops at the start of filming in February 2012, predominantly situated in the south. Hussein is determined to expand north, bringing him into direct competition with Yorkshire-based pound shop chain Poundworld. Charismatic MD Chris Edwards began his family business with a single market stall in Wakefield, and his elderly mother Alice still pops into HQ each morning to make him toast. At the beginning of the documentary, Poundworld has 130 shops, mostly in the north, and Chris is keen to open more stores in the south. Meanwhile both companies have to compete with the UK's largest pound store chain, private equity-funded Poundland.
Whenever 99p Stores opens a new shop, they put on a show with entertainment, balloons and a 99-second trolley dash - but Hussein discovers that supermarket sweeps aren't going to attract the posh customers of Chester. In Salford it's a different story, with one new customer thrilled to be able to buy a handbag for her wedding for just 99p. Poundworld's customer service trainer Denise sees her company as 'the Harrods of pound shops', but will shoppers in the south feel the same way?
Can the 99p Stores expand quickly enough to retain their market position, or will Chris's Poundworld chain catch up? The two family businesses are in direct competition - even opening some stores right next door to each other - but who will come out on top?