2016: No.50 - £65m
2015: New Entry

Poundland boss Jim McCarthy is a man with retail in his blood. He also has a happy knack of being in the right place at the right time.

It’s a knack which has boosted his bank account more than once. In 2003 the sale of T & S Stores to Tesco earned him “a few million.” Then in June 2010 when his Poundland chain was sold to American private equity firm Warburg Pincus he received another payout. He banked half the money and re-invested the rest in the company which continues to pay him solid dividends as well as cash in lieu of pension payments.

His third windfall came in 2014 with the company’s successful stock market flotation which valued Poundland at £750 million. He remains a significant shareholder with four per cent of the business, and those shares, while they have been up and down at times, have performed well overall.

In 2015 Willenhall-based Poundland’s sales hit £1 billion for the first time and is serving more than five million shoppers a week. Not bad for a business that began life as a stall on Bilston market 25 years ago. 2015 also marked Poundland’s £55 million acquisition of discount rival 99p Stores.

Jim McCarthy was born in Nuneaton, the son of a former regimental sergeant major and Burma veteran who went on to be a sales rep for Scottish and Newcastle Breweries. He was brought up in Warwickshire and Birmingham. He went into retail – initially as a trainee with newsagents Dillons – and worked closely with Wolverhampton retail millionaire Kevin Threlfall (sic). He and Kevin Threlfall turned T&S stores into a convenience store giant which was sold to Tesco for £530 million.

Jim McCarthy, 60, was recruited by Sainsbury’s as managing director of its chain of Local convenience stores but three years later a series of family illnesses and tragedies persuaded him to leave London and return his native Midlands. He took on the role of chief executive in 2006. Under his leadership Poundland has been transformed from an under-performing chain of cheap-and-cheerful stores to an empire employing 15,000 staff with aspirations to open 1,000 shops across the UK and Ireland. But the everything-for-a-£1 philosophy holds good, and in 2014 the chain opened its first store in Spain.

He attended St Philips Grammar School in Hagley Road. He married his wife Rosie in 1974 aged 18. They have two adopted sons.