Logo at Hamleys at Delhi airport
Number of locations
|11 in UK; 46 international franchises|
|Revenue||£43 million (2011)|
Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world and one of the world's best-known retailers of toys. Founded by William Hamley as "Noahs Ark" in High Holborn, London, in 1760, it moved to its current site on Regent Street in 1881. This flagship store is set over seven floors, with more than 50,000 toys on sale. It is considered one of the city's prominent tourist attractions, receiving around five million visitors each year. The chain has ten other outlets in the United Kingdom and also has more than 60 franchises worldwide.
Hamleys was bought by the Icelandic investment company Baugur Group in 2003 but was taken over by Baugur's main investor, Landsbanki, when the group defaulted. In 2012, the French toy retailer Groupe Ludendo bought the business for £60 million. In 2015 it was reported that Groupe Ludendo was negotiating the sale of Hamleys, possibly to a Hong Kong company owned by a relative of the owner of department store House of Fraser. Subsequently, it was sold to the Chinese footwear company C.banner for an estimated $154 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, 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 original High Holborn shop was destroyed by fire in 1901 and was subsequently relocated to Nos. 86–87 High Holborn. The Regent Street branch later expanded to Nos. 188-196.
In 1938, Queen Mary, 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. In October 2015 it was reported that Groupe Ludendo was negotiating the sale of Hamleys, possibly to a Hong Kong company owned by a relative of the owner of department store House of Fraser.It was subsequently purchased by C.Banner, a large Chinese footwear and fashion wear conglomerate based in Nanjing.
United Kingdom stores
Hamleys expanded and moved its flagship store from No. 200 Regent Street to its current site 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. The ground floor is traditionally for stuffed toys (including Steiff), and is 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
As of 2015, there are ten other stores across the UK, including sites at the St. Enoch Centre in Glasgow, at the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, York and at airports including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted and Manchester.
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 South 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 also opened its first store in the ‘City Of Joy’ at Quest Mall, Kolkata. It is also the first store of Hamleys in Eastern India. With this addition, the iconic brand is now present in 8 cities with 14 stores across India.
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. Malaysia is now a home for 3 Hamleys stores, with new outlets opened in the Quill Mall, Kuala Lumpur and in the satellite terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
In 2014, Hamleys opened its first store in the Philippines. The store opened at noontime of December 21, in time for Christmas, in Central Square, Bonifacio Highstreet, 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.
On 20 August 2015, a store opened in Greenstone Mall, Johannesburg, South Africa. This is the first Hamleys store to be opened in South Africa.
In November 2015, a store opened at Antara Polanco Fashion Mall in Mexico City, its first store in Mexico and its second attempt to open a store in the Americas since the aforementioned short-lived venture in New York City in 1987.
There´s one store in Nicosia, Cyprus. In November one is opening at Eastgate, South Africa and also in Malta.
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".
Econsultancy critiqued the site for its basic approach in 2013, and felt that it "doesn't do a lot to represent the brand, it fact it may even detract from it".
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- Charlton, G. "Why is Hamleys failing to make the most of ecommerce?". econsultancy.com. Retrieved 18 November 2013.
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