Smyths Toys group sales near €600m as British arm grows 30%

Galway-based company now among the State’s largest indigenous retailers

Smyths Toys group will open its 70th British store on Saturday, at Crayford in London. Photograph: Frank Miller

Smyths Toys group will open its 70th British store on Saturday, at Crayford in London. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

The burgeoning Smyths Toys empire recorded strong growth last year, with sales in Britain up 30 per cent to £334 million.

The group, owned and run by four Galway-based brothers – Tony, Tommie, Padraig and Liam Smyth – will open its 70th British store on Saturday, at Crayford in London.

Smyths Toys UK, which operates the group’s British outlets, recorded profits before tax of almost £6 million last year, up from £3.4 million the previous year, according to accounts recently filed.

The group opened nine new stores in Britain over the course of 2015, according to the financial statements, as the brothers ploughed ahead with an aggressive UK expansion plan to make Smyths the biggest toy chain there.

Seven outlets in North

In addition to its British stores, Smyths also operates seven outlets in Northern Ireland, whose results are recorded in a separate entity. These stores recorded sales last year of £33.6 million, up 5 per cent, and profits of £600,000.

Smyths Toys also owns 21 stores south of the Border, but the financial performance of its operations in the State is shielded from public view via an unlimited company, which doesn’t have to file public accounts.

Immediately prior to the end of the last boom in 2007, however, Smyths recorded sales of about €185 million in the State. Assuming its Irish sales have recovered to close to its pre-crash levels, the overall revenues of the group in Ireland and the UK must now be approaching €600 million annually.

Smyths Toys employed more than 1,700 staff in the UK at the end of 2015, according to the accounts for its British and Northern Ireland entities. It likely employs close to 500 staff in the Republic, making the privately-held group easily one of the largest indigenous Irish retail groups.

UK expansion plan

In the accounts for Smyths Toys UK, the directors confirm the company will continue its UK expansion plan.

Separately, recent accounts for another Northern Ireland company, Screggagh Wind Farms, show that two of the Smyth brothers – Liam and Tommie – were beneficiaries of the £27 million sale of the 20 megawatt wind farm in Tyrone to a listed UK company, Greencoat UK Wind.

The Smyth family, although mostly Galway-based for many years, originally hails from Claremorris in Mayo. Two other prominent Claremorris businessmen, financial broker Edward Sweeney and local vet Thomas Brennan, were investors in the wind farm alongside the Smyths prior to its sale to Greencoat.