Toy retailer The Entertainer is gunning to double the size of its business over the next four years as it takes advantage of the gap left in the toy market after the demise of Woolworths.
The 49-store retailer plans to open around 12 stores a year from March, when its new warehouse opens, enabling it to service a larger portfolio. It wants to top 100 stores within four years.
Managing director Gary Grant, who is also chairman of the Toy Retailers Association, said: “The demise of Woolies has presented the biggest opportunity I’ve ever experienced in all my years in the toy business. Business has picked up in our stores. We had to rent outside warehouse space to cope.
“Our short-term goal is to double the size of the business, and now we have the logistics to do that.”
The new 175,000 sq ft warehouse will open in Swindon and be capable of servicing 150 stores. The existing 60,000 sq ft warehouse in Little Chalfont in Buckinghamshire can service 50 shops and will be used to fulfil the retailer’s online operations from Thetoyshop.com and Gadgetshop.com. As a resul of the change, 28 roles are in consultation and Grant said that he expected to have to make around 15 redundancies.
The Entertainer has hired a third party, TDG, to run its logistics operations, which Grant said will “drive down operational costs”.
The Entertainer is seeking new stores in shopping centres and market towns, and has also opened its first temporary Christmas store in Maidenhead. Property agent Reid Rose Gregory acts for the retailer.
Grant said the retailer would not be embarking on such a rapid expansion programme had Woolworths not collapsed. He said: “We’re in a very strong position. We’re well ahead on profits and sales budgets.”
He added that recent store openings, including Liverpool One, were trading “well above budget”.
Grant said he is “very optimistic” for Christmas, adding: “We will definitely trade significantly better than last Christmas, when we were in the midst of the final struggles of Woolies trying to stay afloat.”