HobbyCraft is aiming to create more in-store theatre and make its shops local community hubs as it aims to attract a wider audience.

The arts and crafts retailer is to trial kids’ birthday parties next month at its new format store in Orpington, to give the retailer a point of difference.

HobbyCraft chief executive Catriona Marshall, who joined from Pets at Home in January, said she wants HobbyCraft stores to be “original and different” to other retailers’.

Marshall said: “We want to engage customers and local communities. We want the stores to be exciting places to be.”

Retailers are increasingly offering more in-store theatre to draw in customers, including fashion retailer White Stuff which hosts book clubs in its stores.

Marshall told Retail Week that HobbyCraft is mulling offering other initiatives that could include a TV shopping channel in order to demonstrate HobbyCraft products.

However, Marshall said any such moves are “two years down the line”.

In order to engage with local communities, HobbyCraft will be ploughing its marketing spend into local advertising, rather than national advertising, which it has done in the past. It will target local stores and community centres to promote in store classes, including knitting classes.

HobbyCraft, which was acquired by private equity firm Bridgepoint last year, has flourished in the downturn as it benefitted from the make do and mend ethos that gripped Brits at the onset of the recession.

It reported an 18% increase in EBITDA to £14.4m in the 52 weeks to February 20.

Marshall admitted that the retailer’s online offering was lacklustre, but that a revamped site would launch next year. “It’s nowhere near where it needs to be nut it will be revamped within the next year,” she said.

HobbyCraft is slimming down its 56,000 SKUs to 40,000, removing “old, slow moving and duplicate lines”, according to Marshall. “We’re working hard on the supply chain.”