Hawkin’s Bazaar plans to have up to 170 shops in the long term as it scouts for 60 temporary stores to open in time for its crucial Christmas trading period.

The toys and novelties retailer has 60 permanent stores at present, and chief executive Lyle Finlay sees scope for 150 to 170 across the country.

He is also leading a search for dozens of temporary shops to trade over the festive period.

“We’ll double our portfolio over Christmas,” he said. “We’re very heavily skewed towards Christmas, more than any other retailer.”

Hawkin’s Bazaar is looking for stores sized 1,500 sq ft in primary town and city centre locations. Property agent Williams Gunter Hardwick is advising.

Finlay, who joined in July from TK Maxx where he was senior vice-president of operations and loss prevention, said the retailer has not yet decided on locations for the temporary units.

Finlay said: “We’ve no idea where we’ll open yet. But we’ll open on the best pitch we can, in primary locations with good footfall. It makes sense to open as many as we can.”

Finlay said the retailer was beginning the search for temporary shops earlier than previous years because of the growing popularity of brands opening pop-up shops over Christmas.

He said: “There’s usually a huge rush on at the end of the year to get them. It’s more challenging now that other retailers have woken up to it. There is more competition from fashion guys.”

Finlay said that if the pop-up shops trade well Hawkin’s Bazaar would consider opening some of the sites on a permanent basis. The retailer’s temporary shops would usually close down in January.

“Ultimately we want to grow the permanent estate,” he said.

Finlay said the market is “challenging” but added: “It’s not too bad. We’re where we need to be. We had a good January and February, but March was a bit tougher.

“It will be a challenging year but Christmas will be good, hopefully.”