HobbyCraft to treble store numbers as profits soar

Arts and crafts supermarket HobbyCraft is poised for aggressive store expansion as it plans to treble the size of its business.

The retailer, a haven for fans of needlework, flower pressing and modelling, is on the hunt for a retail operations director to help drive store openings, boosting numbers from 19 to approximately 60.

Sales stand at£46 million, up from£33 million posted last year. Pre-tax profits have surged more than fivefold in the past two years, from£368,000 in 2002 to£2.2 million last year.

Founded in 1995 by Warren Haskins, who brought the idea back from the US, the Bournemouth-based retailer has been holding back new store openings. The last shop was opened during the 2000/2001 financial year.

Retail Knowledge Bank research director Robert Clark said HobbyCraft was lucky to operate in such a niche market. He said: 'It is a limited market, but a major position in that market stands them in good stead.'

He pointed to the fact that there are arts and crafts stores in almost every shopping mall in the US. 'It's always slightly surprised me that there aren't more (arts and crafts) chains here. It is almost noticeable by their absence,' he said.

The retailer declined to comment on how the expansion would be funded, although Clark believed it is unlikely to come from profits.

'There are lots of companies where the existing management can take it to one level, but they need help in the form of finance and new people to take it on from there,' he said.