|Private limited company|
|Founded||London, United Kingdom|
|Headquarters||2 Fouberts Place, London, United Kingdom|
Number of locations
|9 in UK|
|Revenue||GBP 43,000,000 (2011)|
Hamleys is the oldest toy shop in the world and one of the world's best-known retailers of toys. Founded by William Hamley as "Noah's Ark" in High Holborn, London, in 1760, it moved to Regent Street in 1881.
Its flagship store in London is across 7 floors with more than 50,000 toys. Located at Nos. 188-196 Regent Street, it is considered one of the city's major tourist attractions, receiving around five million visitors per year. The chain has several other outlets in the United Kingdom and others worldwide.
Hamleys was bought by the Icelandic investment company Baugur Group in 2003 but was taken over by Baugur's main investor, the Icelandic bank Landsbanki when the group defaulted. In September 2012, the French toy retailer Groupe Ludendo bought Hamleys for £60 million.
Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world. It is named after William Hamley, who founded a toy shop called "Noah's Ark" at No. 231 High Holborn in London in 1760. Ownership of the shop passed through the family, and by the time it was operated by Hamley's grandsons in 1837, the store had become famous, counting royalty and nobility among its customers.
A branch at No. 200 Regent Street was opened in 1881; the High Holborn branch was destroyed by fire in 1901 and was relocated to Nos. 86–87 High Holborn. The Regent Street branch later expanded to Nos. 188-196.
In 1938, Queen Mary, the consort of King George V, gave Hamleys a royal warrant. During the Second World War, the Regent Street store was bombed five times. In 1955, Queen Elizabeth II gave the company a second royal warrant as a "toys and sports merchant".
Hamleys was bought in June 2003 by the Baugur Group, an Icelandic investment company. When Baugur collapsed, its stake in the toy store was taken over by the Icelandic bank Landsbanki. In September 2012 Groupe Ludendo, a toy retailer based in France with shops also located in Belgium, Spain and Switzerland, bought Hamleys for a reported £60 million.
United Kingdom stores
Hamleys moved its flagship store from No. 200, Regent Street, where it established in 1881, to its current address at Nos. 188–196, Regent Street, in 1981, which is the largest toy shop in the world.
Hamleys' flagship store has seven floors covering 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2), all devoted to playthings, with different categories of toy on each floor. In the late 1990s, Hamleys opened a specific Spice Girls department, dedicating their aisles to everything from Spice Girls stationery to Spice Girls dolls. The ground floor is traditionally for soft toys (including Steiff), and decked out with a diverse array of stuffed animals, from regular teddy bears to more exotic plushes such as turtles and dolphins, and enormous life-sized giraffes and elephants.
Other UK stores
Hamleys had a store in Sheffield towards the end of the late 1980s. Based in part of the old Robert Brothers department store that closed earlier in the 1980s, its address was Nos. 36–38, The Moor, Rockingham House. It closed after a few years due to high rates and lower-than-expected trade. Hamleys is also a holding company for several other toy companies in the United Kingdom. Most notably, Hamleys purchased The English Teddy Bear Company in 2004. Originally established by Dominic Richards, it failed to prove a success for Hamleys, and all eight stores were closed down within two years.
As a result of these large expansion failures under the previous management team, Hamleys most successful expansion efforts have been through running concession outlets at various UK airports. Hamleys run smaller stores at London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport, London Stansted Airport and Manchester Airport. There is also a small store at London's St. Pancras railway station and at York Designer Outlet, North Yorkshire.
On 15 November 2012 Hamleys opened a shop in Cardiff. The store is located in the St. David's Shopping Centre, and is 13,000-square-foot (1,200 m2).
On 28 November 2013 a Hamleys was opened in the Trafford Centre, near Eccles in Greater Manchester.
On 11 September 2014 Hamleys opened a shop in the departure concourse of London Stansted Airport.
In 1987 Hamleys' second store was opened in New York City, however it was closed less than 12 months later.
Hamleys' European footprint existed in Denmark (three small stores) and, since October 2008, the Republic of Ireland, when it opened a 3,250-square-metre (35,000 sq ft) store in Pembroke Avenue, located adjacent to the Town Square in Dundrum, Dublin. On 12 October 2012, a Hamleys store opened at Nacka in Stockholm, Sweden. On 19 September 2013, a Hamley store opened as part of Steen og Strøm department store in Oslo, Norway. In April 2014 the Hamleys Denmark toy chain closed all four of its Danish locations when its Nordic parent company, Kids Retails, filed for bankruptcy.
Hamleys opened its first store outside Europe in Amman, Jordan, on 18 June 2008. The three-storey store on Mecca Street is run by the group's franchisee Jordan Centre. A Dubai franchise opened with two stores on 4 November 2008.
The first store in Asia was opened in Mumbai, India, on 9 April 2010. The 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) store is located in an upmarket shopping district in India's financial capital. A second store in India is located in the city of Chennai at the Express Avenue Mall. The 11,000 sq ft store has a London bus that customers can walk up through. It now has ten stores in India, including two stores in Delhi, Ahmedabad, Bangalore, two stores in Mumbai, Pune and Chandigarh. Hamleys' opened a store in the Saudi capital Riyadh on 26 January 2012. The 2,100 sq m shop is located in the Panorama mall at Takhassusi Street's intersection with Prince Mohammed Road.
In 2013, Hamleys announced plans to open 20 stores across India in collaboration with Reliance Brands Ltd.. The company also announced that a store would open in the One Utama Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur, in November 2013, the first in south-east Asia.
In 2014, Hamleys opened its first store in the Philippines. The store opened at noontime of December 21, in time for Christmas, in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City. A second Philippine Hamleys store is also set to open the following year. Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) Group is the exclusive distributor of Hamleys in the Philippines.
In the 1990s Hamleys had two websites, one for the UK which did not sell anything, and a US version with a basic inventory. This changed in 1999 with the launch of hamleys.com. The site offered worldwide shipping and focused on user experience, customer service and the sale of traditional products and collectables. The chief executive of Hamleys told Marketing Magazine "I do not want to become embroiled with the likes of Toys 'R'Us, Toyzone and eToys, which are fighting on price alone and will end up making next to no margin".
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