Reliance Brands Acquires Iconic Toys Firm Hamleys

Reliance Industries said its unit Reliance Brands has signed a definitive agreement with Hong Kong-based C Banner International to acquire 100% equity in iconic British toys retailer Hamleys for £67.96 million.

Reliance Retail’s marquee label operator Reliance Brands is the India master franchisee for Hamleys, which reputedly has its origins in the world’s oldest toy store in London that was opened in 1881.

Reliance already operates more than 85 Hamleys outlets in India that is more than half of the total about 130 stores globally for Hamleys.

“Over the last few years, we have built a significant and a profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India,” Darshan Mehta, CEO of Reliance Brand said in a statement. “The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business, places Reliance into the frontline of global retail.”

Reliance Brands markets through joint ventures and franchisee agreements about four dozen global brands in India including Diesel, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gas, Furla among other labels.

This is the second acquisition for Reliance this year. In March, Reliance Retail, the retailing subsidiary of the Mumbai conglomerate, announced it has acquired John Players fashion and lifestyle brand from ITC.

Prior to that in 2018, Reliance purchased controlling stake in New Delhi-based luxury retailing firm Genesis that sold marquee labels like Jimmy Choo, Emporio Armani, Canali, Bottega Veneta among other top end international labels.

The acquisitions are part of Reliance’s aggressive retail play dubbed “new commerce” that seeks to synergize between Reliance Retail’s large network of stores with its upcoming e-commerce foray.

The acquisition of Hamleys will give Reliance more heft in its retailing play, especially with Hamleys having already emerged as the largest toy retailer in India. It also gives Reliance a sway over about four dozen Hamleys global stores.

Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy retailer, reported a loss of 9.2 million pound for the year ending December 2018 after declaring a profit of 1.7 million pound the previous year. In 2015, Chinese retail group C Banner acquired Hamleys from Ludendo Enterprises UK.

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