Harry Potter Stores Conjure Up $26 Million Of Revenue
The spell Harry Potter has cast on retail has been revealed in financial statements which show that the boy wizard’s chain of just three stores generated $26.1 million (£20.1 million) of revenue over the 15 months to the end of February last year.
The stores are all located in high-traffic areas in Britain. Two are in the departure lounges of London’s main airports – Heathrow and Gatwick – whilst the third is in Kings Cross railway station which features prominently in the Potter books and movies. Harry and his pals have to walk through a wall in the station to get to Platform Nine and Three Quarters where an old-fashioned steam train takes them to their alma mater in the colossal Hogwarts Castle.
A photo opportunity in Kings Cross itself allows travelers to grab the handle of a luggage trolley which appears to be disappearing into the wall underneath a sign for the fictional platform. It regularly attracts queues of over half an hour which drives business to the store next door.Today In: Business
Resembling a dormitory in Hogwarts Castle, the store shares similar design standards to the elaborate Potter lands in Universal’s theme parks. There’s a fake mezzanine floor in the rafters adorned with bookcases, dusty globes on the desks and leather trunks underneath which look like they have been left there by students. The entire fake floor is even surrounded by a wooden balustrade as it would be if it was actually in a dormitory.
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Continuing the theme, the floors are lined with wood and lanterns hang from the ceiling next to ornate bird cages which are are famous in Potter-lore for being home to enchanted owls. Completing the picture, the spooky Potter theme plays in the background as shoppers peruse the plush characters, wizards’ robes and, of course, the boxes of wands packing the shelves.
The stores are also amongst only a handful of places where you can buy the sweets which feature in the movies like Chocolate Frogs and Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. It has had a magic touch.
The stores are operated by British company Platform 9 3/4 K1ngs Cross which also manages the retail for the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child theatre shows in London, Melbourne, New York and San Francisco. The company is ultimately owned by WarnerMedia which distributed all of the Potter movies and was bought by telecoms giant AT&T for $85 billion in 2018.
Over the 15 months to the end of February 2019, Platform 9 3/4 K1ngs Cross made a $0.5 million (£0.4 million) net profit after paying $25.6 million (£19.7 million) of costs. Its biggest single expense was $9.7 million (£7.5 million) spent on stock followed by a $4.8 million (£3.7 million) wage bill which rose 61.2% as staff numbers increased to 154 compared to 130 in the shorter 12 month period before.
A media giant like Warner wouldn’t normally itemise the results of a small chain of stores in a single market as they would be a tiny part of its overall expenses. However, the Potter stores are separately incorporated and there is good reason for this.
They were originally founded by British entrepreneur Jonathan Sands and his business partners Paul Mendoza, Stephen Williams and former Warner executive Eric Senat. Sands started out as a photographer at London’s Elstree Film Studios and later bought Weird and Wonderful, a movie props company. Its collection became so large that in 2008 he put it on display in London’s former County Hall before moving it to a 25,000 square feet site near the capital’s Covent Garden market.
It is now known as the London Film Museum and is home to the world’s biggest collection of cars from James Bond movies. The line-up includes the Aston Martin DB10 from Spectre and the Lotus Esprit which famously dived under water in 1977’s The Spy Who Loved Me.
Last year we revealed in Britain’s Daily Express newspaper that Sands and his partners had brought the curtain down on their time as owners. In December 2018 they sold the museum and Platform 9 3/4 K1ngs Cross to Warner as part of a $59 million (£46.3 million) deal. The Hollywood studio isn’t resting on its laurels.
In summer Warner will open the world’s largest Potter store in New York. Sitting next to the iconic Flatiron building at 935 Broadway, the store will span more than 20,000 square feet across three floors and will house the largest collection of products based on the Potter movies as well as the Fantastic Beasts spinoffs. It will include personalised robes and yet more wands, this time ones with a design which is exclusive to the New York location. For Potter fans that really is a happy ending.