This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

A whole new world

The Toy Store, an independent toy retailer operating in the United Arab Emirates, is celebrating its ninth anniversary by exanding its number of stores. Toy World caught up with Peter Bracken, CEO of The Toy Store, to fi nd out more about the expansion plans, and shed light on the world of independent toy retail in the UAE. Tom Roberts reports.

Tell me about how The Toy Store was set up? Nine years ago Gulf Greetings was looking to expand the retail group into a new channel. Our partners and I identifi ed the toy channel as one that offered both the chance to have fun and creativity with the stores, but also one that was underdeveloped in a market where retail excellence had set global standards. The business was also passionate about setting up a local brand that could eventually be taken beyond the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) borders. Playing is an important part of our life development and our catchphrase, “Wanna play?”, not only became our slogan but also our ethos when it came to setting up the stores. We want children and adults alike to have fun and experience the magic that underlines the toy industry. After all, if you can’t have fun in a toy store, where can you?

Can you tell me what the set-up process for a retail venture in the UAE/GCC involves? Like any retail operation in the world, the set-up process is not always easy. Firstly, you have to get the relevant trade licences, convince the malls that you have a pedigree of retail that can match their

58 Toyworld

ambitions, as well as ensure the infrastructure is in place to support it. Although we were a new brand, we were able to get people excited about The Toy Store and we have not looked back.

You now have 10 stores in the UAE/GCC; can you tell me about how your expansion plans are progressing? It has always been our vision to position The Toy Store as the best-loved toy retailer in the region. As the fi rst locally-developed toy specialist retail brand we feel it is important that we continue to be where the people are and where we can give the brand strong exposure. In a region of multiple simultaneous new mall

developments, picking the right locations can sometimes be a tricky process. However, the management team has been working with the mall owners for over 30 years throughout the region and we pride ourselves on securing good locations and being able to deliver great stores into the malls. It is true, however, that the consumer will often select their shopping destination based on the mall itself or a particular experience, such as the indoor ski slope in the Mall of Emirates or Burj Kalifa in Dubai Mall, rather than just because a certain store is present.

For this reason, we felt it important to be at all the strategic locations, so if you took a straight line from Dubai Airport to Abu Dhabi, every signifi cant mall now has The Toy Store present. We have opened four new stores in the last 12 months alone, with our most recent addition in the Dubai Mall. This has put the brand on the global map and has lead to a further validation to the industry that we are serious about our brand and our long-term strategy. In the coming months we will be opening a new store in Oman and a further store in Abu Dhabi. Our store in the Mall of Emirates will receive a full face-lift in 2014, and other locations are being discussed throughout the region and beyond.

What makes the UAE/GCC retail market such a positive environment to set up toy shops in? Retail is challenging anywhere in the world, and the UAE and GCC were not immune to the economic problems ecountered in 2008/9. Rents are also some of the highest in the world, so

entering the market is not for the faint hearted. That being said, the malls offer retailing excellence and continually look to offer the consumer the reasons to spend their money, and they work hard to drive footfall

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64  |  Page 65  |  Page 66  |  Page 67  |  Page 68  |  Page 69  |  Page 70  |  Page 71  |  Page 72  |  Page 73  |  Page 74  |  Page 75  |  Page 76