Smyths, the Irish retail giant, is plotting its first foray into England with the launch of a chain of superstores by the end of the year.
The 24-strong store empire is eyeing locations around the country with the intention of creating a retail base from an assortment of city-centre and out-of-town stores.
Smyths is looking to open about 10 superstores in the SouthEast of England in the upcoming months, and has already begun to advertise key positions.
It will open its first retail outlet at Chadwell Heath in Romford in July, with others planned for Manchester and the greater London area. Capital Retail in Nottingham is advising the business on its prolonged expansion and search for sites.
The arrival of the Irish chain with its innovative approach to store design is expected to shake up the UK toy retail market, dominated by toy specialists such as Toys R Us and The Entertainer, owner of The Gadget Shop.
Smyths is looking for stores of up to 25,000 square feet in size and the expansion plans are likely to be funded from the company’s own cash reserves.
The stores also stock a large range of nursery and software products and employ expert staff in each of the separate sections within the store.
The company is run by the four Smyth brothers and has been one of the most successful Irish retail stories in recent years. The Galway-based firm was established in 1986 and now has 19 shops in Ireland along with a further five outlets in Northern Ireland. Last year the company reported sales of €186m (£126m), which generated operating profits of nearly €6m (£4m).