Lego and superheroes help Smyths make leap into UK market

Irish family-owned toy seller’s expanding UK operation reaches record €655.9m revenues

Sales of Lego and superhero toys last year helped family-owned Irish toy seller Smyths to record revenues of over €655.9 million in its expanding operation in the UK.

New figures show that the Galway-headquartered group saw UK sales surge by 22 per cent from £475.7 million to a record £581.57 million (€655.9 million).

During the year, pretax profits at Smyths Toys UK Ltd increased by 22 per cent from £11.88 million to £14.5 million.

Smyths entered the British market in 2007 and its business has grown to a network of 100 stores across England, Scotland and Wales. The group opened six new stores in Britain in 2018, having opened 12 in 2017. In notes to the 2018 accounts, directors say more new stores will be established in Britain “in the coming years”. In 2018, the company spent £14 million on buying property in Britain.


Customs arrangements

The directors highlight Brexit concerns, saying supply chains could be adversely affected due to changes in tariffs and customs arrangements. They also note that they are considering the specific risks around a hard Brexit and will establish a set of contingency actions to address this should the need arise.

The operation in Britain employed 2,451 last year, up from 2,195 in 2017. Staff costs climbed from £33.5 million to £39.2 million.

The company’s accumulated profits last year increased from £29.57 million to £40.8 million while its cash pile increased from £11.92 million to £13 million.

Gross profits of £118.9 million and selling and distribution expenses of £104.4 million resulted in the pretax profit of £14.5 million.

The Smyths business is led by the four low-profile Smyth brothers: Anthony, Liam, Patrick and Thomas. The business operates 21 stores in the Republic and seven in the North.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times