The Entertainer children’s toy shop is closing its doors in the Bullring for almost three months.
A major refurb will then take place before the store reopens with an Early Learning Centre in time for Easter.
The move comes at the same time that two major high street chains are pulling out the Bullring altogether and other nearby stores have discounts ranging from half-price to 75 per cent off.
But the collective Bullring promise is still for bigger and better in the future despite the fact that the West ‘wing’ of the centre is in danger of becoming a ghost town in the early part of the year.
Forever 21 closed down at Christmas after the LA-based retailer hit the rocks.
And, on Boxing Day, near-neighbour HMV posted ‘Closing down – everything must go posters’.
Now The Entertainer – the country’s largest toy retailer – is going to be closed from January 11 to early April with the aim of coming back with a bang in time for Easter (Good Friday is on April 10).
Famous for its children’s slide, the store has launched a 25 per cent off sale to clear stock.
Its flyers say: ‘Closing for a refit on Saturday, January 11 for an exciting newly designed store coming soon – everything must go’.
Looking ahead to the shopping centre’s future, a Bullring spokesman remained bullish and said: “Bullring and Grand Central have both welcomed some exciting new brands in 2019 and we continue to build upon our success of these lettings, such as Lego .
“The destination continues to provide shoppers with the very best experience with a great brand and restaurant offer, including long standing existing retailers who continue to be a success, for example Selfridges .
“We will bring more new brands to Birmingham in 2020 to ensure the Bullring and the city centre maintains its popularity both in the region and beyond.”
What’s happened to Bullring Forever 21?
The parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the US at the end of last summer and had cleaned out its Bullring store before New Year’s Eve.
Stores in London, Liverpool and Birmingham were targeted for closure as part of a global cull to reduce the company’s exposure from 800 stores in 75 countries to less than 500.
The chain, founded in 1984, said it planned to ‘exit most international locations in Asia and Europe’ after revealing the extent of its financial troubles at the end of September.
What next for Bullring HMV?
This Bullring store is just yards from the former Forever 21 entrance and could also be be gone by the end of January, 2020.
On December 28, 2018, HMV went into administration for the second time in five years.
After Canadian businessman Doug Putman used his expertise as the owner of Sunrise Records to buy fellow music retailer HMV in February 2019, all seemed to be well when its Bullring store wasn’t on the list of posted closures.
But on October 11, Mr Putman personally opened a new concept called HMV Vault inside the former Toys R Us in Dale End and introduced it as ‘Europe’s largest entertainment store’ with a guest three-song performance by former One Direction star Liam Payne
Although the move was facilitated with the help of Hammerson which owns the Dale End site as well as the Bullring, it meant that the writing was on the wall for HMV’s shopping centre store which has much higher overheads than Vault.
Staff think the Bullring store might be closed by the end of this month and will hope that future customers will now be prepared to walk to Dale End at the far end of the High Street to Birmingham’s retail heartland.
The Entertainer in the Bullring
The company is the UK’s largest independent toy retailer with more than 170 stores and will celebrate its 40th anniversary in May, 2021.
One of the oldest businesses in the Bullring, it is going to close its flagship store there on Saturday, January 11.
Because it doesn’t open on Sundays to give staff a rest, it would have been closed for those 12 in any case.
But with 19 more stores around its West Midlands region, including Solihull and Sutton Coldfield, there will be no shortage of opportunities for staff on the other six days of each week.
A spokesman said: “We would like to thank customers over the last decade.
“We can’t wait to welcome them to the exciting newly-designed store which includes an Early Learning Centre.”
The Entertainer was founded in May, 1981 when husband and wife team Catherine and Gary Grant bought the Pram and Toy Bar in Amersham, Buckinghamshire.
They say: “Our vision is every childhood filled with wonder. Our mission is to be the Best-Loved Toyshop – one child, one community at a time.
“We love creating memories and delivering outstanding service. Do you remember visiting a toy shop as a child?
“Hopefully, those memories are still with you?”
In 2019 it was ranked 49th in The Sunday Times top 50 best mid companies to work for.
The Entertainer is part of TEAL Group Holdings, a family of brands which also includes Early Learning Centre and Addo. In December 2018, it acquired 50 Poly toy shops in Spain.
Company with a social conscience
The Entertainer supports Odd Socks Day, a campaign by the Anti-Bullying Alliance to encourage children to celebrate their individuality and to speak out about bullying as well as Hello Yellow, which helps Young Minds to highlight the importance of children’s mental health.
Big Toy Rehoming sees used toys going to the Salvation Army instead of landfill while The Quiet Hour makes shops more friendly for children with special needs like autism.
A digital charity box called Pennies has raised millions of pounds for hospitals while the money paid for carrier bags raised more than £280,000 for Together for Short Lives, a charity for children with life-shortening conditions.