Reliance Brands acquires British toy brand Hamleys for £68 million

Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries on Thursday announced the acquisition of iconic British toy brand Hamleys for £67.96 million pounds (around Rs620 crore) in an all-cash deal. 

Reliance Brands Limited, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries, and Hong Kong-based C Banner International Holdings, the current owner of Hamleys, signed a definitive agreement for Reliance Brands to acquire 100 per cent shares of Hamleys Global Holdings Limited.
Founded in 1760, the 259-year-old Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world. “Hamleys truly represents a unique model leveraging the quality and wide range of its toys, combined with the theatre, entertainment and its retail experience,” Reliance stated in a release. 
Hamleys started with a single-store shop, Noah's Ark, in 1760. It now has 167 stores across 18 countries. Besides the UK, it has stores in China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa and West Asia. 
“Hamleys has 167 stores across 18 countries. In India, Reliance has the master franchise for Hamleys, and currently operates 88 stores across 29 cities. This acquisition will catapult Reliance Brands to be a dominant player in the global toy retail industry,” the release added.
Commenting on the development, Darshan Mehta, president and CEO of Reliance Brands, said; "Over the last few years, we have built a very significant and profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India. This 250-year-old English toy 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. Personally it is a long cherished dream come true."
Hamleys opened its flagship Regent Street London store in 1881. This flagship store is set over seven floors covering 54,000 sq ft, with more than 50,000 lines of toys on sale. It is considered one of London's prominent tourist attractions, receiving over 5 million visitors each year. Children and teens from all over the world visit the store for its year-round events, parades, demonstrations and elaborate displays.
Hamleys has struggled to generate profits in recent times. It reported a profit after tax of £2.44 million in 2018 after suffering a loss of £11.24 million in 2017. 
Chinese fashion conglomerate C Banner International acquired it for 100 million pounds in 2015. C Banner also owns the Chinese units of marquee consumer retail brands such as Steve Madden and Sundance. 
Hamleys was delisted from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2003 when it was taken over by Icelandic investment firm Baugur Group for $68.8 million. In 2012, it was sold for $78.4 million to Groupe Ludendo of France. 
Reliance Brands Limited (RBL), is part of the $120 billion Reliance Industries Limited (RIL), began operations in 2007 with a mandate to launch and build international and domestic brand equity in the premium to luxury segment across fashion and lifestyle space. Its current portfolio of brand partnerships comprises of Armani Exchange, Bally, Bottega Veneta, Brooks Brothers, Burberry, Canali, Coach, DC, Diesel, Dune, Emporio Armani, Ermenegildo Zegna, G-Star Raw, Gas, Giorgio Armani, Hamleys, Hugo Boss, Hunkemoller, Iconix, Jimmy Choo, Kate Spade New York, Kurt Geiger, Michael Kors, Mothercare, Muji, Paul & Shark, Paul Smith, Pottery Barn, Pottery Barn Kids, Quiksilver, Replay, Roxy, Salvatore Ferragamo, Satya Paul, Steve Madden, Superdry, Scotch & Soda, Thomas Pink, Tumi, Villeroy & Boch and West Elm. RBL today operates over 420 stores and 350 shop-in-shops in India.