Smiggle UK

A Smiggle UK store.

Australian retailer Smiggle is set to continue its international expansion, adding a flagship to its 125-strong fleet of stationery stores in the United Kingdom (UK).

Known for its colourful stationery that is popular with tweens, the retailer began UK operations in 2014. By the second half of 2017 the UK had become its biggest market.

The two-storey flagship on London’s Oxford Street is set to open in May, Smiggle managing director John Cheston said last week.

Cheston told the Press Association Smiggle will continue to pursue an ambitious store opening schedule despite the gloomy conditions that hang over the UK retail market.

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

“But the target is still to be bringing in $200 million Australian dollars 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.”

Parent company Premier Investments reported Smiggle’s global sales in FY17 were up 28.8 per cent to $238.9 million. It is pursuing a growth strategy with the aim of exceeding $400 million in revenues by FY20.

The retailer opened 58 new stores in 2017, creating a total of 297 stores across Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK, Hong Kong, Malaysia and the Republic of Ireland. Smiggle will also expand into Europe this year, starting with the Netherlands and Belgium.

The retailer expects these two countries combined will operate 40 to 50 stores over the next four to five years. These markets will be serviced from the growing Smiggle European base in the UK.

In September last year, Premier Investments CEO Mark McInnes praised Cheston and said he was responsible for Smiggle’s global success.

“Our managing director of Smiggle, John Cheston, has led Smiggle to become a truly unique [and] highly profitable global brand. The brand is quickly being recognised as a new and leading retail concept in all of its new markets.

“We are very excited to have a pipeline of an additional 100 to 120 new stores in existing markets over the next two years, a rapidly growing Smiggle online business in both the UK and Australia and…the opening of our first stores in Continental Europe in CY18. We continue to investigate new high value countries of size and scale.”

Smiggle is not the only Australian stationery retailer attempting to crack the UK market, with Kikki K and Typo also investing heavily in the region in recent years.


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