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Private limited company
Industry Retailing
Founded London, England (1760 (1760))
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Number of locations
11 in UK; 46 international franchises
Area served
Products Toys
Revenue GBP 43,000,000 (2011)
Owner Groupe Ludendo
Slogan The Finest Children's Toy Shop in the World
Website www.hamleys.com

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 its current site on Regent Street in 1881.

The flagship London store is set over seven floors, with more than 50,000 toys on sale. It is considered one of the city's major tourist attractions, receiving around five million visitors each year. The chain has ten other outlets in the United Kingdom and nearly 50 franchises 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 2012, the French toy retailer Groupe Ludendo bought the business for £60 million.[1] In October 2015 it was reported that Groupe Ludendo was negotiating the sale of the toy retailer, possibly to a Hong Kong company owned by a relative of the owner of department store House of Fraser.[2]


Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world.[3][4] 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.[5]

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.[6] The Regent Street branch later expanded to Nos. 188-196.[5]

In 1938, Queen Mary, consort of King George V, gave Hamleys a royal warrant.[5] 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.[1] 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.[7]

United Kingdom stores[edit]

Regent Street[edit]

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),[8] 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[edit]

As of 2015, there are ten other stores across the UK, including sites at the St. David's Shopping Centre in Cardiff, at the St. Enoch Centre in Glasgow,[9] at the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, in Sheffield, York, and at airports including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted[10] and Manchester.

Global stores[edit]

A Hamleys store in the shopping mall Emporia in Malmö, Sweden.

In 1987 Hamleys' second store was opened in New York City, however it was closed less than 12 months later.[11]

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.[12][13][14] 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.[15]

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.[16] A Dubai franchise opened with two stores on 4 November 2008.[17]

The first store in South Asia was opened in Mumbai, India, on 9 April 2010.[8] 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.[18] 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.[19]

In 2012 Hamleys opened its first store in Russia. It now operates two in Moscow, one in Saint-Petersburg and one in Krasnodar.[20]

In 2013, Hamleys announced plans to open 20 stores across India in collaboration with Reliance Brands Ltd..[21] 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 Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.[22] A second Philippine Hamleys store is also set to open the following year.[23] Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) Group is the exclusive distributor of Hamleys in the Philippines.

In 2015, an Abu Dhabi franchise opened with two stores in World Trade Centre Mall (WTC) and Yas Mall, Yas Island.

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 Latin America.

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[24] 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.[24] 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".[25]

In 2006 a glitch on the website allowed customers could claim a 60% discount on any product.[26][27]

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".[28]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hamleys toy chain sold to French firm Groupe Ludendo". BBC News Online. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012. 
  2. ^ http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Retail_and_leisure/article1620642.ece
  3. ^ Peter Matthews, Michelle Dunkley McCarthy (1994). The Guinness Book of Records 1994. Facts on File. p. 134. 
  4. ^ Donald McFarlan, Norris McWhirter (1990). The Guinness Book of Records 1991. Guinness. p. 135. 
  5. ^ a b c http://news.bbc.co.uk/local/london/hi/people_and_places/history/newsid_8510000/8510277.stm
  6. ^ History - once upon a time a boy dreamed of owning a toy shop, Hamleys, retrieved 2009-08-04 
  7. ^ http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Retail_and_leisure/article1620642.ece
  8. ^ a b "UK toy retailer Hamleys opens first store in India". NDTV. 2010-04-08. Retrieved 2010-04-08. 
  9. ^ Garavelli, Dani. "London toy shop Hamleys opens its doors in the St Enoch Centre, Glasgow, today.". The Scotsman. 26 Nov 2009
  10. ^ "A new store at Stansted Airport is child's play for Hamleys". Herts and Essex Observer. 
  11. ^ "Hamleys returning to York after 17 years", The Press (York) (Newsquest Media Group), 18 October 2005, retrieved 2009-04-08 
  12. ^ Hamleys Toy Store Opens In Dublin, British Embassy in Ireland, retrieved 2009-04-08 [dead link]
  13. ^ http://www.dundrum.ie/pdf/FINAL_03%2006%202008_Hamley%27s%20Consumer%20Release.pdf
  14. ^ Fagan, Jack (4 June 2008), "€1 million rent for top toy store Hamleys in Dundrum", The Irish Times, retrieved 2009-04-08 
  15. ^ "Hamleys Denmark closes outlets following bankruptcy". cphpost. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014. 
  16. ^ Thompson, James (18 June 2008), "Hamleys opens first store overseas", The Independent, retrieved 2009-04-08 
  17. ^ Roberts, Katie (4 November 2008), "Hamleys Dubai opens today", Toy News Online, retrieved 2009-04-08 
  18. ^ "Our Stores in India". 2013-07-17. Retrieved 2013-07-17. 
  19. ^ http://www.ameinfo.com/287948.html
  20. ^ http://www.hamleys.ru/
  21. ^ "Reliance Retail aims to have 20 Hamleys stores in next 3 yrs". 2013-02-03. Retrieved 2013-07-17. 
  22. ^ "SSI Group brings in iconic toy brand", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 December 2014, retrieved 2014-12-22 
  23. ^ Vila, Alixandra Caole (22 December 2014), "Largest toy shop in the world opens branch in the Philippines", Philippine Star, retrieved 2014-12-22 
  24. ^ a b Doward, Jamie (21 November 1999). "Accountant's plan to make fun of Hamleys Once a Virgin high-flier, Simon Burke now has a British institution as his play thing". The Observer. Retrieved 8 April 2014. 
  25. ^ "Hamleys revamp aims at US", Marketing Magazine, 15 December 1999, retrieved 7 April 2014 
  26. ^ "Net Vikings pillage Hamleys website Voucher scheme error provokes festive carnage". theregister.co.uk. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  27. ^ "Hamleys website suffers web glitch - offers toys 60% below true price". computer weekly. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  28. ^ Charlton, G. "Why is Hamleys failing to make the most of ecommerce?". econsultancy.com. Retrieved 18 November 2013. 

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 51°30′46″N 0°08′25″W / 51.5128°N 0.1402°W / 51.5128; -0.1402