Smyths Toys starts German expansion with new €40m logistics hub

Group has completed the rebranding of the region’s former Toys R Us division that it bought last year for up to €79 million

The Mayo family-owned toy retailer this month opened a new Smyths superstore in Munich, bringing its total in the German market to 66. Photograph: Frank Miller/ The Irish Times

The Mayo family-owned toy retailer this month opened a new Smyths superstore in Munich, bringing its total in the German market to 66. Photograph: Frank Miller/ The Irish Times

 

Smyths Toys has begun its expansion in the central European market, after completing the rebranding of the region’s former Toys R Us division that it bought last year for up to €79 million.

The Mayo family-owned toy retailer this month opened a new Smyths superstore in Munich, bringing its total in the German market to 66. It is also expanding others, such as its store in the town of Hanau near Frankfurt.

The group is also building a new €40 million, 50,000 sq m distribution facility in northern Germany, as it transfers its high-volume business model, which it perfected in Ireland and the UK, to its new European division.

The Galway city-headquartered group, which is controlled by four Smyth brothers from the Mayo town of Claremorris, is now marketing itself as the largest toy retailer in Europe.

It operates 214 stores under the Smyths banner across Europe, including 21 in the Republic, 100 in the UK including seven stores in Northern Ireland, 66 in Germany, 11 in Switzerland and 16 in Austria.

Smyths operates with unlimited status and doesn’t file group financial accounts, but annual revenues are thought to have breached the €1 billion mark.

‘Big box’ model

It completed the bulk of rebranding of all of the old Toys R Us outlets between January and April, and formally launched the Smyths brand name in the German market with a barrage of advertising, including some television spots. One of its main marketing slogans in Europe is “make the world your playground”.

The 1,400 sq m new Munich store opened on June 6th in Forum Schwanthalerhöhe, the group’s second superstore in the city. It is particularly strong in Berlin, where it operates six superstores, but has a broad geographical spread across Germany in primary and secondary cities.

Expansion work is ongoing at the Hanau store, which will increase its floorspace by a third to about 1,200 sq m.

Work is also advanced at its new €40 million logistics facility on a site located close to a motorway in Walsrode, an area located east of Bremen and south of Hamburg. The new facility is expected to be completed in the autumn.

It will give Smyths scope to expand its “big box” model of volume retailing, and may also provide it with further opportunity to expand online sales in the German market.

Its expansion in the UK market also continues, seemingly unaffected by Brexit. Last week it opened a new store in Exeter and is believed to be planning another in the northern England town of Carlisle.

Portugal

Meanwhile, one of the director brothers of the group, Tommy Smyth, has officially relocated from Ireland to an exclusive development near Estoril near Lisbon. Portugal is considered an attractive location for many successful Irish business executives, and was once the domicile of Denis O’Brien.

Tommy Smyth remains a director of the toy group. He was not involved in the day-to-day running of the group, although he used to run the McSwiggan’s bar in Galway that was controlled by the brothers.

Recently-filed company documents suggest the Smyth brothers have sold a 70 per cent state in the pub for €3.6 million to the members of the Dublin-based Buckley family that run the FX Buckley steak restaurant chain.

Smyths was unavailable for comment last night.