The Entertainer sets its sights on 200 stores

"I haven't even started," says MD Gary Grant; Retailer to continue "aggressive" expansion plans.
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The Entertainer will have opened its 79th toy shop by November – its 15th in 2012.

The rapidly growing retailer had originally planned to open 12 shops this year, but made the decision to open three more following another record trading period, in which Q2 sales rose 12.3 per cent.

It’s the latest chapter in a remarkable success story, that has seen a humble family business grow into the UK’s largest indie toy chain.

Speaking to ToyNews, founder and MD Gary Grant, said: “There’s been a mind shift and a gear change.

“The company has been going for 31 years. It started in 1981, and in the first ten and a half years we opened three shops. Then between 1992 and 2002 we opened a further 25 shops. Between 2002 and 2012 – the last ten years – we’ve opened 50.

“That just shows the stepping up of the growth.”

However, Grant said The Entertainer was nowhere near where it could be, in terms of its number of stores across the UK.

“There are still huge amounts of opportunity within the UK, by taking toys to the High Street in locations where there is either no toy presence there, or a weak presence.

“I don’t think we’ve even really started backfilling the opportunities available from the closure of Woolworths.

So, our expansion plans for the next few years are quite aggressive.”

He added: “I haven’t sat down and identified all the towns, but it wouldn’t surprise me if we could successfully have 200 shops.”

While Grant said it was “too early” to predict how many stores the retailer would open next year, he did claim that a repeat of this year’s 15 would be tantalisingly close to the 100-store milestone.

The Entertainer uses its profits to fund its expansion, so the amount of stores potentially opening in 2013 will ultimately depend on performance this Christmas.

But with momentum looking certain to build – in August Grant said the company was confident about making 2012 its “most successful year yet” – 15 or more stores looks very likely indeed.

Grant also said the High Street was The Entertainer’s home: “We’re not trying to create a functional, Toys R Us-style shopping experience. For a child’s experience to be magical, it’s got to be more than functional.

“It’s got to be fun.”

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