Exclusive – Toytown’s Alan Simpson talks to Toy World

Published on: 5th April 2019

We caught up with the managing director of SMF Toytown about his expansion plans for 2019. 

The hugely success independent toy retailer Toytown is continuing its aggressive expansion plans this year. Following on from the opening of a new store at Princes Quay in Hull, and a toy-only location in Newcastle’s The Galleries, managing director Alan Simpson is now turning his attentions to at least four more new store opening across the UK between now and June.

“It’s been a busy first six months for Toytown, and business is good,” he tells Toy World, fresh off the ferry from Ireland at the start of a 12-day tour. “We’re 20% up on last year, which is an excellent result considering that retail is supposed to be on its knees. Among all our new openings last year were three particularly big locations, compared to our average store footprint – Glasgow, Dundee and Lisburn – and they have quickly become our first, second and third best performers. In several of our new openings we’ve also taken on former Toys R Us staff members; this works really well for the business as they are knowledgeable about toys and can get to grips with our systems quickly.”

While the retailer is ploughing ahead with new stores, Alan says he is turning down more approaches from shopping centres than he can recall, instead taking his pick of the centres he wants Toytown to be in.

“When Toys R Us went under there was a void in the market,” he explains. “Smyths picked up a chunk, The Entertainer picked up a chunk, and so did we. You have to seize these opportunities as they arise and with the number of retail closures at the moment, more will surely pop up. There’s always the possibility of more openings for Toytown this year; while the aim is to open all our new stores by the end of June, if a ‘no-brainer’ opportunity for another comes out the woodwork we will always consider it.”

Alan is also looking forward to attending the Independent Toy and Gift Show this year. A founding member of the plaY-room buying group, and its biggest one by far, Toytown works closely with the group on the import side, and regularly passes on offers to other members so they can piggyback with the company on volume.

Alan adds: “Truth be told, Toytown is big enough that it doesn’t really require a buying group; the fact that we are still plaY-room members speak volumes to the huge respect and admiration we have for the group. It’s nothing but a pleasure working with it.”

To read the full interview, which was published in our April issue, click here.


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