Thursday 26 April 2018

Australia’s Smiggle to open Oxford Street flagship store

Smiggle – which bills itself as the ‘ultimate creator of colourful, fun, fashion-forward stationery’ – currently has 125 UK stores.

Smiggle is going to Oxford Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)
Smiggle is going to Oxford Street (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

By Ravender Sembhy, Press Association City Editor

Australian stationery retailer Smiggle is set to defy the gloom hanging over the British high street as it presses ahead with plans to open a flagship store on London’s Oxford Street.

Managing director John Cheston told the Press Association that Smiggle is not scaling back its ambitious store opening programme.

“We had a very strong half, and the first quarter was very strong with back to school, we will consider prudently our store openings.

“But the target is still to be bringing in 200 million Australian dollars (£112 million) in revenue by 2019 and to have around 200 stores, including opening a two floor Oxford Street flagship in May.

“It could be less than 200 stores, it could be more, depending on the deal we get with landlords.”

Smiggle – which bills itself as the “ultimate creator of colourful, fun, fashion-forward stationery” – currently has 125 UK stores.

The group currently employs 1,000 people in the UK, but this will grow to over 2,000 with 200 stores.

Its British arm reported sales of £29 million in 2016 and recorded a £3.8 million pre-tax profit, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

Smiggle’s expansion comes at a brutal time for the sector, with several retailers announcing large scale job cuts and store closure plans over the past months.

This has included fellow Australian firm Wesfarmers, which is the ultimate parent company of DIY chain Homebase.

The group said this month that between 20 and 40 of the worst performing Homebase stores could close down, with 2,000 jobs at risk.

Retailers have been hit by a surge in Brexit-fuelled inflation, which has seen the cost of goods rocket and consumer confidence plummet since the referendum result.

On Brexit, Mr Cheston added: “We are insulated to a certain degree from inflation, parents cherish their kids and grandchildren and our entry price is low.

“But at the same time, stagnant wage growth, rising interest rates and inflation are problems.”

Smiggle is ultimately owned by Premier Investment, the firm chaired by Australian billionaire Solomon Lew.

Press Association

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