Business Irish

Friday 18 October 2019

Toy store FAO Schwarz comes to Arnotts

Actress Mia Sinclair Jenness at the opening of FAO Schwarz's flagship store at 30 Rockfeller Plaza in New York City - now the retailer is to open in Arnotts. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for FAO Schwarz
Actress Mia Sinclair Jenness at the opening of FAO Schwarz's flagship store at 30 Rockfeller Plaza in New York City - now the retailer is to open in Arnotts. Photo: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for FAO Schwarz
Samantha McCaughren

Samantha McCaughren

World-famous US toy store FAO Schwarz is to open a 6,000 sq ft shop in Dublin department store Arnotts.

The store, which featured in the movie Big starring Tom Hanks, will open in late October and is part of a strategy by Arnotts to create a family 'destination' in the city centre.

FAO Schwarz will be in the area and will be joined by another well-known US brand, Pottery Barn, which will bring its nursery range to Ireland for the first time. In total, the child-focused area will be 17,000 sq ft.

The Irish FAO Schwarz shop entails an investment of €1m and will employ 40 to 50, according to Donald McDonald, managing director of Brown Thomas Arnotts.

McDonald said Arnotts had entered into an exclusive partnership with FAO Schwarz and described it as a 'huge coup' for the Henry Street store. Arnotts will have a replica of the FAO clock tower, which will activate every hour and feature a toy train and soldiers.

It will also feature the giant piano seen in Big and have a Sharper Image section, which is a tech-based brand.

Other features include a doll adoption centre. Rather than interviews, 'auditions' will be held for staff, as is done in New York. "Everything that you have in New York will be recreated in Dublin. We're talking about customer experience and engagement, people want to be interactive and engaged in the story of the brands," McDonald said.

The store will sell giant plush toys with prices going up to €1,600, although the average spend is expected to be in the region of €40 to €50, with toys starting at €10.

McDonald said that Selfridges, which bought Arnotts in 2015, had always seen the shop as family-focused.

"We go back to 2015 when Selfridges took over, it was always our plan to understand the Arnotts customer and understand the business.

"We said it at the time, we were always committed to the family-friendly store that Arnotts was and the way it was always a destination for families - a day out."

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