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Smyths Toys to buy Toys ‘R’ Us German and Austrian stores

Smyths Toys, the fast-growing Galway-based retail group, has agreed a deal to buy the Toys ‘R’ Us business in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

It is Smyths’ first foray into mainland Europe. The deal will see the Irish business buy 93 shops and four online stores.

Investment bank Lazard was hired to find buyers for several international subsidiaries of Toys ‘R’ Us following an announcement last month that the US business would be liquidated.

Smyths was founded in Co Mayo and has become a hugely successful retailing business. It is owned by four Galway-based brothers – Tony, Tommie, Padraig and Liam Smyth – and now owns 21 shops in the Republic of Ireland and around 90 in Britain and Northern Ireland.

It has aggressively expanded in the UK since entering the market in 2007. It will open new shops in Dundee and Luton in the coming months.

The company is intensely private – its turnover and profits here are not available as the firm has unlimited status in Ireland.

However, the UK business shows that revenues and profits there are growing strongly. It significantly increased pre-tax profits in its UK operations to £10m in 2016, as sales climbed by 19pc from £334m (€381m) to £396.49m on the back of new store openings.

The revenue increase contributed to pre-tax profits jumping by 69% going from £5.96m to £10m.

The 19% increase in revenues for Smyths Toys UK in the 12 months to the end of December 2016 followed sales growth of 30% in 2015.

Toys ‘R’ Us said in January said it would shut about a fifth of its US stores as part of a plan to emerge from one of the largest ever bankruptcies by a specialty retailer but the plan was unsuccessful.

On Friday, it was reported that Fairfax Financial Holdings had made a bid to buy the Canadian unit of Toys ‘R’ Us Inc for about $300m.

In Britain, it closed all of its 100 shops after no buyer was found.

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