Poundland scraps in-house comms function, hires new agency led by ex-PR chiefs

Poundland has disbanded its in-house comms function, and moved control of consumer PR to a new agency co-founded by the retailer's former corporate brand and PR manager and an ex-Asda comms chief, PRWeek has learned.

Poundland has leaned heavily on social and PR for its Elves Behaving Badly campaign to save advertising costs.
Poundland has leaned heavily on social and PR for its Elves Behaving Badly campaign to save advertising costs.

Arena PR now oversees consumer PR for Poundland and Dealz, its chain in Ireland.

It signals an end to Poundland's relationship with London agency Talker Tailer Trouble Maker, which previously worked on consumer comms for 12 months. The retailer will continue to work with fashion and homeware PR specialist Lee Publicity, via a relationship with Arena.

Arena PR's founders are Andrea Ross, who worked at Poundland for more than 11 years, most recently as corporate brand & PR manager; and Nick Agarwal, former strategic comms director at Asda and vice president in corporate affairs and marketing for parent company Walmart in the US.

Agarwal has worked with Poundland on a consultancy basis for three years.

Arena PR's website states: "We set up Arena because we were tired of big promises (and even bigger bills) from more established agencies. And because we’re proud to be retailers as well as consumer PR experts, we believe we offer something distinctive.

"We know the best consumer PR is built on high quality content, but has to deliver to the top and bottom line. So we don’t just turn up at the office for status meetings - we embed ourselves in the businesses we work with, so we’re a seamless part of the team. That’s our secret to finding (and often creating) the best stories."

Agarwal told PRWeek the agency reports to Poundland trading director Tim Bettley but also has "a strong direct relationship" with MD Barry Williams.

Arena's lineup also includes former Daily Express City editor Peter Cunliffe as a PR consultant.

Poundland has gained a reputation for eye-catching PR-led campaigns in recent years.

The company's Valentine's Day 'Bling Ring' campaign won a 2019 PRWeek Award in the Marketing Communications - FMCG, Health, Beauty, Retail, Fashion category. Poundland's Halloween campaign, in which it promoted an 'invisibility cloak', was included in PRWeek's Five Campaigns We Liked This Month for October.

Poundland has over 500 stores in the UK and Ireland. Since 2016 it has been owned by South African retail group Steinhoff.

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