Former Black Country market trader Steve Smith is a serial entrepreneur. Having made his fortune from Poundland – the company he co-founded in 1990 – he now has his finger in a wide range of pies from recruitment to property to takeaway food.
His retail career began on Wolverhampton and Bilston markets where his father, Keith, ran a stall. Together they founded the Hooty’s cash and carry business which they sold in 1988.
The family moved to Majorca but Steve’s wife, Tracey, was reluctant to move from the UK so they stayed behind. He, along with partner Dave Dodd, founded Poundland from a rented office in Sedgley with a starting capital of just £50,000.
The first store opened in December 1991 in the Octagon Centre, Burton, followed by others soon after, including the Meadowhall Centre in Sheffield.
Other stores followed, along with a new warehouse in Willenhall, and by the late 1990s the business, with Steve Smith as chief executive, had turned into a nationwide chain.
In 2002 they sold out to a management buyout team backed by private equity from Advent International.
The sale made £50 million. By that time Poundland had a turnover of more than £180 million, 84 stores and almost 5,000 employees. Poundland continues to grow and has just opened its 500th store.
The company was the subject of a second private equity sale in 2010 worth £200 million.
Meanwhile Steve Smith – who picked up an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award for two years running – keeps himself busy with a wide range of business ventures.
He is co-owner of head hunters Kind Consultancy Ltd, an executive search firm specialising in middle and senior management appointments.
He is also co-owner of Blue Square, a Birmingham-based business specialising in buying property to rent. The firm has a rental income of around £500,000 a year.
He is chairman and co-owner of Greenfield Capital which specialities in bridging and property finance and floated on the Guernsey stock exchange in 2012, turning over £30 million.
He founded The Funding Club in September 2013, a private investors club which connects investors with entrepreneurs.
His other interests include the online property agency Estates Direct where he is a shareholder, takeaway food specialist Eat4Less which is planning 100 stores in the UK, window manufacturer Excel Windows, and fast-growing workforce management company Maxtime.
Aged 50, he lives on a 50-acre Edwardian estate near Kidderminster.