Four toy store founders share €14m as sales boom


Christmas came early for the owners of Ireland's largest chain of toy shops. The four brothers behind Galway-based retail chain Smyths Toys were paid management fees of more than €14.1 million last year, according to the company's accounts.

The payment was made to Kadsura, a company controlled by the Smyth family, and served to knock a sizeable hole in the profits of the company which had sales of €185 million in the 12 months to the end of March last year. Its operating profit was €5.9 million.

Smyths Toys was founded by the eponymous quartet in 1986 and has 19 stores in the Republic and five in Northern Ireland.

Its managing director is Tony Smyth, while the biggest shareholder is Patrick Smyth; the two other brothers are Liam and Thomas.

Directors' fees of more than €1 million were also paid in the last financial year.

Smyths has expanded rapidly in recent years and is now one of the most successful indigenous retailers, with sales growing from €20 million in 1997 to last year's €185 million.

The company is planning to spend €10 million opening five new stores over the next two years and to refurbish five existing outlets.

Tony Smyth was not returning calls yesterday and no one was available to update on current trading.

But with Ireland in the grip of a consumer boom and other retailers reporting good sales over the Christmas period, the Smyth brothers may be in line for another bumper payout this year.

Tracy Grimes, manager of the rival Toymaster store on Dublin's Mary Street, said that customers had been typically spending in the region of €200 on Christmas presents.

Many were paying more than €300 for some items, she added. Bestsellers included the Tickle Me Elmo character and the Digi Makeover kit for girls.

James Byrne, marketing director of Byrne's World of Wonder, the country's second biggest toy retailer said; "It's a very competitive market, but there is a lot of growth in it."