Smyths Toys' UK sales top half-billion mark for first time
Low-profile Galway brothers expanded their retail empire to Germany, Austria and Switzerland earlier this year
Family-owned Irish retailer Smyths Toys has recorded sales of more than half-a-billion euro in its expanding UK operations.
New figures show the Galway headquartered firm enjoyed strong growth in 2017 in the UK as sales surged by 11pc to a record £475.7m (€534.5m).
Pre-tax profits increased by 18pc, going up from £10.1m to £11.88m, boosted by popular toys like Lego and Shopkins.
The business is led by the four low-profile Smyth brothers, Anthony, Liam, Patrick and Thomas.
They first entered the UK market in 2007 and the business has grown exponentially there since then - the latest increases in revenue came on the back of sales growth in 2016 of 19pc and a 30pc hike in 2015.
Earlier this year, Smyths Toys purchased the Toys R Us business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.
The €79m deal adds a further 90 stores to the Smyths Toys group and brings the number of outlets to around 200 in Ireland, the UK and Europe.
The continuing expansion is in stark contrast to the international struggle for bricks-and-mortar retailers generally.
On the UK performance in 2017, the directors say they are very pleased with the increase in profit, particularly given the current economic climate and the increased competition in the market place.
The directors said sales "were driven by growth in existing UK stores and also the 12 new stores opened during the year".
On the group's future developments, the directors said "further expansion will occur in the UK market in the coming years through the opening of new stores".
Underlying its expansion in the UK, the company last year spent £20.66m on the purchase of property and this followed a spend of £20.5m under the same heading in 2016.
The firm is Ireland's largest toy retailer but the extent of its profits and revenues here are not available as the firm has unlimited status in Ireland. Numbers employed by the UK arm last year increased from 1,888 to 2,195, with staff costs increasing to £33.47m.
The UK firm last year recorded a gross profit of £102.45m and selling and distribution expenses of £90.57m, resulting in a pre-tax profit of £11.8m.
At home, Smyths operates 21 stores - six in Dublin, two each in Limerick and Cork and individual superstore outlets in Navan, Galway, Tralee, Naas, Dundalk, Drogheda, Claremorris, Sligo, Waterford, Athlone and Letterkenny.
The Irish arm filed annual accounts up to 2007 but has not had to since it changed its company status to unlimited that year.