NIALL Cox completed work experience at Poundland in Bolton – and a few years later ended up store manager. So we asked Niall, who works at the Burnden Park store, how important he considered interns to be?

1. How important is work experience?

I’d never have had the chance to pursue a career in retail and be where I am now, if it had not been for the opportunity of taking part in a work placement with Poundland. For that I’m very grateful and that’s why I’m doing all I can to give the opportunity, that was given to me, to others here in Bolton.

2. How did it help you?

I absolutely loved my time doing work experience at Poundland. After a few weeks, I was offered a temp job, that quickly led to full time work. Learning more about the business, developing my skills and confidence and through my hard work I was promoted to an Assistant Manager, followed by Store Manager.

3. Should placements be paid?

Look I understand why people are concerned, but don’t think they understand the facts.

And you know it’s not like we have thousands of people either. I think nationally Poundland get on average one person per store per year. Here in Bolton we’ve had a few more – 20-plus in the last year – but that’s because I know the difference it can make to lives.

For the two to eight weeks they’re with us, we’ve tried to make it as helpful to them as we can and give them a taste of the working world

4. Do some companies use placements as free labour?

I’d be very surprised – are you really saying someone coming for a couple of weeks to learn about the world of work is going to replace someone full time. It’s certainly not true here. In fact, we have to set aside time from our colleagues in the store to look after the people who come to us.

5. How do you see Poundland’s future?

That’s a very big question! All I know is that customers want two things –the things they need to run their lives and at a price they can afford to pay.

Poundland’s great because we protect them from rising prices elsewhere. The overwhelming majority of what we sell is £1. Always was and always will be.

6. Has the low-cost retail market become competitive?

Retail has always been tough in the UK. But the reason why places like Poundland are doing well is because we can move quickly to bring customers a bargain on the things they want to buy. That’s why our customers love us –sometimes they don’t know what they’re going to find, but we like to amaze them with that we have.

7. Is this the future? Eg. Aldi?

Savvy shopping is here to stay. Once you know you can get the things you need for a £1 rather than £1.50 or £2 somewhere else you’re hooked.