Mukesh Ambani has purchased 259 year old British toy store, Hamleys, from its Chinese owners, C Banner International, for £67 million. Ambani, who is India’s richest man and worth £38 billion, already owns Burberry, Armani, Bottega Veneta and Jimmy Choo via his Ambani Reliance Brands business.
Hong Kong based C Banner International, purchased Hamleys four years ago for £100million from previous owner, French firm Groupe Ludendo. The deal makes Hamleys the first overseas retail brand in Ambani’s portfolio, which has so far focused primarily on 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.”
Founded in 1760 by Cornishman William Hamley, Hamleys operates from 167 stores in 18 countries and Ambani’s company already ran 88 branches across 29 cities in India. The tycoon is currently engaged in a struggle with Amazon and Walmart for position in the Indian retail and online shopping market. The acquisition of Hamleys will boost Ambani’s fight to dominate the market in his home country.
Hamleys is primarily famous for its huge flagship store on London’s regent street, which is a tourist attraction in its own right and welcomes five million visitors a year. The retailer has been expanding into international markets since the mid 2000s. in 2017 it closed loss-making stores in the UK and Ireland after posting a £9.2 million pre-tax loss.