Retail NI: Maplin and Toys ‘R’ Us closures to impact NI economy

Toys 'R' Us and Maplin administration

Two high street giants, Maplin and Toys ‘R’ Us have gone into administration on the same day.

With five stores in Northern Ireland, electronic goods retailer Maplin’s administration could result in 60 job losses across the province.

Toys ‘R’ Us has already announced closures of their Belfast and Derry/Londonderry stores, but the toys and juvenile products retailer has yet to make plans known for the remaining branches in Castle Court Shopping Centre and Lisburn.

A spokesperson for Toys ‘R’ Us was not available to comment, however it is estimated that the job losses in Northern Ireland could be similar to Maplin, if the toy retailer were to cease operating in the region.

CEO of Retail NI, Glyn Roberts, believes this will have a negative impact on the wider retail sector in Northern Ireland. He says: “Ultimately when you look at the bigger picture, that’s over 100 salaries fewer being paid into hard working families and less disposable income into the economy.

“Add in local manufacturing jobs that have been lost, or will be about to be lost, and it isn’t good news for the retail sector.”

It was announced on February 28 that Moorfields – the London-based insolvency practitioners – has been appointed to begin an ‘orderly wind down of Toys ‘R’ Us, and Maplin’s CEO, Graham Harris released a statement to say, “it has not been possible to secure a solvent sale of the business and as a result we now have no alternative but to enter into an administration process.”

Maplin stores will continue to open as normal and a representative of the company’s administrators, PwC, in Belfast says: “At the moment there are no redundancies so no jobs are at immediate threat. All stores are open as usual and there will be an ongoing review of the state of things, including profitability.”

Retail NI’s Roberts believes it’s hard to say whether footfall will increase for independent retailers.

“There’s obviously a small number of independent toy shops but they are few and far between. Small, independent electrical shops might get a small step up which, in the grand scheme of things, won’t have that much of an effect.”

Toy buyer for independent retailer, Stewart Miller & Sons, Claire Baillie doesn’t anticipate the loss of Toys ‘R’ Us to have much impact on their own sales. “We expect our business to stay the same possibly with a slight increase, Baillie says. “When Woolworths closed, the business just sort of vanished, it didn’t really go anywhere. I would say [Irish multinational children’s toys and entertainment retailer] Smyth’s would benefit the most from it. Unfortunately Toys ‘R’ Us isn’t the number one toy retailer in the UK and they suffered because of that.”

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