Britain's most famous toy shop, Hamleys, bought by India’s richest man

Britain's most famous toy shop, Hamleys, bought by India’s richest man”

India's Reliance Industries has acquired British toy retailer Hamleys, the energy-to-telecoms conglomerate said on Thursday. Reliance, which already has the master franchise for Hamleys in India, will also get to own 88 stores across 29 cities that is now operates.

Founded in 1760, Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world with 167 stores in 18 countries.

The company's Reliance Brands subsidiary signed an agreement yesterday to buy Hamleys from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings.

For Hong Kong-listed C. Banner, the sale would mark a retreat from the United Kingdom after the Chinese company previous year dropped plans to purchase a majority stake in House of Fraser, a struggling department store chain that was rescued by Sports Direct International Plc In 2015, C. Banner paid €100 million (US$130 million) for Hamleys, which was founded in 1760 and opened its London flagship store in 1881. "This worldwide acquisition places Reliance in the frontline of global retail", said Darshan Mehta, President and CEO of Reliance Brands.

The famous London toy retailer Hamleys has been sold to its Indian business partner, Reliance Industries, in a deal worth almost £70m.

For the January-March quarter in 2019, Reliance Retail reported a 77.07 per cent increase in its pre-tax profit to Rs 1,923 crore.

Hamleys was also reporting losses until recently. "Personally, it is a long cherished dream come true". Hamleys opened it flagship Regent Street London store in 1881. It already has the licence to sell Hamleys products in India. It is considered one of London's prominent tourist attractions, receiving over 5 million visitors each year.

Having established itself as India's leading telecoms player, Reliance Industries has been firming up plans for a major retail onslaught to combine its traditional outlets with an online foray aimed at taking on Amazon and Walmart in India.

The group's retail business doubled revenue to 356 billion rupees (3,909,090 pounds) in the three months to December 31 while earnings before interest and tax more than tripled to 15 billion rupees.

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