India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani buys iconic Hamleys toy store

hamleys toy store

India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani has bought the iconic British toy retailer Hamleys for a reported £70m.

Reliance Brands Limited, which is owned by Mr Ambani, said it had signed an agreement to buy the company from China’s C Banner International which had acquired it in 2015.

Hamleys, which was founded in 1760, is the world’s oldest toy retailer and has 167 stores across 18 countries.

Reliance Industries already operates 88 Hamleys stores across 29 Indian cities.

According to Forbes, the 62-year-old Mr Ambani is worth $50.7bn.

“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand…. is a long cherished dream come true,” Darshan Mehta, the CEO of Reliance Brands Limited, said in a statement.

Hamleys had last year reported a £9.2m loss, blaming Brexit and the threat of terrorism for the downturn and buyers including Mike Ashley circled.

It had opened four stores in the UK but later closed two.

In 2017, Hamleys closed a number of loss-making stores in the UK and Ireland, as it started a restructuring programme after posting a £9.2m pre-tax loss during the year, citing concerns over Brexit.

However its flagship store in London’s Regent Street, which opened in 1881, continues to be one of the city’s major attractions.

The deal will make Hamleys Reliance’s first overseas retail brand, expanding its current portfolio which is primarily focused in Indian supermarkets.

President and chief executive of Reliance Brands, Darshan Mehta, said: “This 250-year-old English retailer pioneered the concept of experiential retailing, decades before the concept of creating unique experiences in brick and mortar retailing became the new global norm.

“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business, places Reliance into the frontline of global retail.”

Set over seven floors, it has an estimated 50,000 lines of toys on sale.