Stationery retailer Smiggle to expand in Europe as UK becomes largest global market

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Fast-expanding Australian retailer Smiggle has unveiled plans to grow into continental Europe in 2018 – as it announced the UK has become its largest global market.

Smiggle only arrived in the UK in February 2014, but it has already opened more than 100 stores across England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to take its worldwide portfolio to 300.

It also opened two stores in the Republic of Ireland in May 2017 and expects to be operating 15-20 within three years.

The latest financial results of Smiggle’s parent company – Australian-listed Premier Investments Limited – revealed that the stationery brand achieved global sales of $238.9m AUD (£140.35m) in FY17, up 28.8% on FY16 underpinned by both new stores and strong like-for-like sales growth.

Smiggle opened 38 new stores in the UK – out of a total of 58 worldwide – during FY17, including the key locations of London Kings Road, Liverpool One, Edinburgh Princes Street, Glasgow Fort and its first store in Northern Ireland, Londonderry. Over 60% of Smiggle sales were from outside Australia, with the UK now the largest market.

The brand’s performance across all geographies – which also includes Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia – has given management confidence to confirm the opening of 100-120 new stores in existing markets during the next two years.

In addition, Smiggle announced that it will further grow its European markets by entry into the Netherlands and Belgium in CY18.

Combined these two countries have a personal stationery market size of US$1.7 billion (£1.26 billion) and Smiggle expects to operate 40-50 stores within them over the next four to five years. These markets will be serviced from the growing Smiggle European base in the United Kingdom.

Smiggle now plans to deliver global revenues in excess of $400 million (£235 million) by FY20.

John Cheston, managing director of Smiggle, said: “Smiggle has become a truly unique, highly profitable global brand, and 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 100-120 new stores in existing markets over the next two years, a rapidly growing Smiggle online business in both the UK and Australia and today’s announcement of the opening of our first stores in continental Europe in CY18. We continue to investigate new high value countries of size and scale.”