Toy chain Conways Toymaster is to increase its store portfolio 50% as it opens eight shops in the run-up to the key Christmas trading period.

All stores will open before December and will add 16,000 sq ft of selling space to the retailer’s store base in the north of England.

The 15-store retailer has signed for shops in Harrogate, Barnsley, Middlesbrough, Stockport and Sunderland. It is in discussions for another three properties.

The retailer, whose existing shops are located on high streets and shopping malls, is looking for high-density town centre locations for its new stores.

Conways Toymaster head of buying Gordon Walker said the retailer has benefited from sticking to its “traditional roots” and added the retailer is confident it can weather the challenging economic conditions.

He said: “It is our ambition to keep a toy shop on as many high streets as possible. Location is extremely important for us. We will have eight new stores open by the end of the year, which is great news for our customers who value the personal service and extensive range of toys we offer.”

Conways Toymaster was founded in Cavendish Street, Keighley, by Barry Walker in 1972.

Property consultant Lambert Smith Hampton advises Conways Toymaster.