Hobbycraft boss predicts craft explosion

Chain continues to bloom in the face of tough retail trading conditions
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Following the latest addition to its business in Edinburgh, Chris Cromby, chief executive of Hobbycraft, the largest arts and crafts chain in the UK, has expounded the sector’s potential growth in the UK.

At the end of December, ten months into its financial year, the retailer’s sales had increased by a massive 122 per cent year-on-year.

And despite an otherwise struggling High Street and retail sector, Cromby sees no signs of this growth slowing:
“There is a resilience in the arts and crafts market during difficult times,” he explained. “It is a low-cost leisure activity and when consumers are cutting back on spending on holidays and big ticket items, arts and crafts represent an affordable hobby to be enjoyed at home.

“Our average basket is £15,” Cromby continued. “So we are accessible to customers regardless of their financial situations.”
In a sector traditionally dominated by independent retailers, Hobbycraft opened the doors to its first store in Bournemouth in 1995 and plans to continue its opening schedule with four to five stores per year across Mainland UK.

The latest addition to the chain was Edinburgh, the second Hobbycraft in Scotland and 40th location is due to open in Peterborough in the summer.

“The arts and crafts sector is a considerable market and in the US, it’s worth $36 billion – similar to the country’s film industry. This would suggest there is also plenty of room for us to expand the UK market. There is a sizeable market for us to go after,” Cromby explained.



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Hobbycraft is side-stepping the difficulties faced by the vast majority of retailers and is in fact posting some impressive growth figures along with bold expansion plans. Katie Roberts spoke to MD Chris Crombie to find out more?

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