Belfast Telegraph

Disney's dolls help propel Smyths to £33m profits

By Margaret Canning

The runaway popularity of Frozen dolls and boardgame Pie Face have helped toy company Smyths Toys (NI) increase sales by 5% to reach £33m in 2015.

The company has six stores in Northern Ireland, making it the biggest independent toy retailer in the province. 

And pre-tax profits were also up 30% to £0.6m. The firm, which is run by the four Smyths brothers who live in Galway, said it was very pleased with the performance, “particularly given the current economic climate and increased competition”.

There was a slight fall in staff numbers at the chain from 159 to 157. The company has shops in Belfast, where there are two stores, as well as Bangor, Newry, Ballymena and Londonderry.

For the year ending December 31 2015, the company reported turnover of £33m, up from £32m a year earlier, while pre-tax profits were also up from £459,000 to £600,000.

Last Christmas, toy stores such as Smyths were enjoying a sales lift from the release of another Star Wars movie.

Also on a movie theme, toy shops were still enjoying strong sales of Disney character dolls Elsa and Anna from animated movie Frozen, two years after the film’s release

And Pie Face — a family boardgame in which players are hit in the face by a hand covered in fresh cream or shaving foam —  was also an unlikely success.

This year Smyths will be facing further competition in Northern Ireland from new market arrival, The Entertainer — which this week celebrates 35 years of trading in the UK.

The UK firm stands out from its competitors by adopting a Christian ethos and shunning merchandise associated with the Harry Potter series of books and films. 

In addition, the company, which so far has one Northern Ireland store in Belfast’s CastleCourt shopping centre, does not open on a Sunday. It faces direct competition in CastleCourt from US chain rival, Toys R Us.

Smyths said it would be publishing its list of must-have toys for Christmas 2016 later this month.

Belfast Telegraph Digital