Smiggle to march into London’s Oxford Street

Smiggle Just Group

Australian stationery retailer Smiggle is set to open a two-storey flagship store on London’s Oxford Street as it ramps up its ambitious expansion scheme.

Set to open in May, Smiggle’s British arm reported sales of £29 million in 2016 and recorded £3.8 million in pre-tax profit, according to accounts filed at Companies House.

A retailer that markets itself as the “ultimate creator of colourful, fun, fashion-forward stationery”, Smiggle currently has 125 UK stores and has plans to hit 200 stores by 2019.

The retailer also employs 1000 people in the UK and this will grow to over 2000 once the 200 stores are opened.

“We had a very strong half, and the first quarter was very strong with back to school, we will consider prudently our store openings,” managing director John Cheston said.

“But the target is still to be bringing in 200 million Australian dollars (£112 million) in revenue by 2019 and to have around 200 stores, including opening a two floor Oxford Street flagship in May.

“It could be less than 200 stores, it could be more, depending on the deal we get with landlords.”

Smiggle is not the only Australian stationery retailer that is expanding its footprint in the UK.

Its competitor Typo recently opened its first store in the South West at Southgate, Bath.

The retailer, which operates 200 stores across 13 international markets, first launched in the the UK as an online-only retailer in 2015 before it opened its first store in Westfield Stratford City in December 2016.

It took a few months before its second store opened at The Bentall Centre, Kingston in August last year and the Bath store is its 5th in the UK.

Smiggle’s and Typo’s expansion comes as fellow Australian firm Wesfarmers recently published a disappointing financial performance in its UK market since acquiring Homebase to convert them into Bunnings.

Wesfarmers said that between 20 and 40 of the worst performing Homebase stores could close down, with 2000 jobs at risk.

While some retailers have been hit by Brexit-fuelled inflation, Cheston said Smiggle was “insulated to a certain degree” from it as “parents cherish their kids and grandchildren and our entry price is low”.

However, he conceded that “stagnant wage growth, rising interest rates and inflation are problems”.

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