The Entertainer sales rise 20%

Toy specialist The Entertainer ramped up sales last year on the back of a store-opening programme.

The addition of six shops in 2002 contributed to an increase in sales of 20 per cent to£37.4 million in the 12 months to end-January 2003.

The retailer said sales were also helped by the spinning-top toy craze, Beyblades, which was so popular in the run-up to Christmas that stocks of the toy ran out. The Entertainer also produced its own spinning-top battleground designed for use with the toys.

'We continue to invest in delivering outstanding service in all 33 stores and expect steady sales growth throughout 2003 in line with our five-year plan,' said managing director Gary Grant.

However, like-for-like sales dipped by 0.5 per cent for a year in which Grant said the most popular toys were relatively inexpensive.

Following its stakeholder conference last year, The Entertainer plans to put ideas raised there into practice in a redesign of its flagship store in Kingston upon Thames.

The store has been internally dubbed 'the Ultimate Toyshop'. However, no timetable for the shop has yet been laid down as the retailer negotiates regulatory hurdles.

The Amersham-based business is in the second year of the five-year plan, which Grant hopes will result in a doubling of sales from the 2002 level.