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Stores at the heart of The Entertainer’s strategy as it reports profits up by almost a third

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Profits are up by almost a third at The Entertainer after a year in which the retailer has strongly built its position in the UK toy market through stores and online, while expanding into Europe. 

Sales at the toy shop, a Top150 retailer in IRUK Top500 research, rose by 21.7% in the year to January 28 2019 compared to the previous year, while profits rose by 31%. Sales were both up both online (+38%) and in-store (+12.3%). 

The growth came at a time when Toys R Us went into administration, and The Entertainer has also boosted its position by opening 16 new shops, taking its UK estate to 163. It has also bought the Early Learning Centre (ELC) from Mothercare in the UK, the Poly toy shop chain in Spain and struck a wholesale agreement to supply Matalan’s new toy departments.

ELC sells through 80 Mothercare department stores and via 400 international stores via franchise partners as well as online through its website. Poly, meanwhile has 55 toy shops, and Matalan now has 63 toy departments, after opening 54 through its partnership with The Entertainer. 

Staff bonuses reached £3m, while the retailer donated £1.6m to charity as a tithe on its profits. Added to schemes such as payroll giving, its ‘Pennies’ change donation scheme and carrier bag donations, total charitable donations reached £2.7m.

Gary Grant, founder and executive chairman of The Entertainer, said: “We’re delighted with these results and credit our success to our enthusiastic, loyal staff, who we’re delighted to be rewarding with a record profit related bonus. 2019 will see us continue to keep a tight control on costs, further strengthen our own label product offering through our Addo brand, ensure we are first to market on key trends and of course offer excellent value for money to our customers. 

“Our ambitious growth agenda will continue after our exciting start to the year with the acquisition of ELC and we will continue to look at every opportunity to expand our presence both nationally and internationally.”

Commenting on the figures, James Yacoub, retail analyst at data and analytics company GlobalData said The Entertainer’s figures suggested that it had benefited from the departure of Toys R Us from the market and at a time when retailers such as Argos had seen their toys sales fall. The challenge now, he said, would be to resist competition from Amazon. “With growing pressures from online giant Amazon, The Entertainer must innovate to remain competitive and enhance its online presence – investment in its online channels is crucial in increasing customer engagement. The Entertainer must further reinforce its in-store USP of interactive customer service to ward off competition from non-specialists, by enticing shoppers to stores by running workshops or introducing play areas.”

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