Hamleys, a 261 year old British toy store is seeking a new lease of life. It was founded by William Hamley in 1760 and the ownership changed three times in the past decade. The London-based chain went from an Icelandic bank to a French group and then to a Chinese fashion retailer. It has not made profit in years. It was purchased by Ambani in 2019 for $ 89 million to strengthen his retail footprint and is trying to breathe new life into Hamleys. Prior to the acquisition, Reliance had the master franchise for Hamleys in India.
With a net worth of $72 billion, Hamleys is seeking to tap into India’s population of 1.4 billion out of which, 27% are children under 14.
Darshan Mehta, the chief executive officer of Ambani’s Reliance Brands Ltd stated “There is a lot of headroom and India is no way near saturation. We are mulling how we can roll out stores in newer geographies and new formats.”
Hamleys stores are famous for giving kids a carnival-like experience and allows them to race toy cars, enjoy model train sets etc. With the pandemic hitting the economy hard, the toy industry is seen to be recession proof as many families give priority to the happiness of their children.
While Covid-19 is accelerating the group’s digital strategy, it is expecting around 30% of online orders in five years .India is seen as a key market as 26 million children are born in the country every year and so there will be no dearth of customers.