All boats to rise as Alceon unveils plans for 20-plus standalone LEGO stores in Australia


Alceon's first standalone LEGO store in Australia. Source: Supplied.

More than 20 standalone LEGO retail stores are expected to open in Australia in the coming years, as private equity firm Alceon Group looks to take a chunk out of the children’s toy market.

Announced Wednesday, the major Noni B shareholder unveiled plans to open LEGO-certified stores across Australia’s major retail markets, after inking a local partnership deal with the Danish toy manufacturer earlier this year.

Alceon dipped a toe in earlier this year with an initial NSW store at Westfield Bondi Junction, and will now seek to replicate its early success with a plumb tenancy on the second level of popular CBD shopping centre Broadway Sydney.

Plans are already in motion to open stores in Victoria and Queensland later this year, while expansion to South Australia and Western Australia is anticipated in 2020.

Alceon executive director Richard Facioni was not available for interview on Tuesday morning, but said in a statement he has been encouraged by the early performance of the LEGO concept in Australia.

“The introduction of further LEGO Certified Stores in key locations will accelerate the reach of this leading global retail concept, as we build on the excitement and emotion intrinsic to the iconic LEGO brand,” he said.

A spokesperson for the private equity giant said north of 20 stores are expected to open in the coming years as Alceon, known for aggressively pursuing new business opportunities, sinks its teeth into the category.

LEGO has for years been one of the most popular toy brands in Australia, despite not having its own dedicated retail network. Toy stores large and small stock the products, while LEGO is also a popular option for more general retailers looking to maintain a presence in toys.

Retail Doctor Group chief executive Brian Walker says he’s been tracking the growth of LEGO internationally and is convinced they’re one of the savviest consumer brands in the world.

“LEGO has fast become a hobby on steroids,” he tells SmartCompany.

“Some of the best retail I’ve seen internationally is in standalone LEGO shops.”

Walker says it will be incumbent upon toy retailers to put themselves in a position to take advantage of Alceon’s plans for the brand Down Under.

He predicts the expansion will lift all boats, increasing awareness and interest in LEGO products locally.

“The growth of LEGO can only benefit retailers switched on enough to promote and ride the wave,” Walker says.

“They’ll place themselves in main centres, principally starting in CBDs and building out from there.”

But Alceon is also likely to pursue exclusive product lines, particularly as it scales the concept across the country, which could drive keen customers away from traditional stockists.

“There will be a little bit of overlap,” Walker says.

Non-toy retailers in centres with LEGO stores are also expected to benefit. Overseas the stores generate significant interest with customers, known for an experience-first model that drives foot traffic.

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