Hamleys sold to Indian group

The union flag flies outside Hamleys toy shop in London

The toy brand is now owned by a Chinese company C Banner International and has around 129 stores globally, a majority of which are under the franchise model. Iceland's Landsbanki Islands sold it to France's Ludendo Groupe in 2012 and C Banner paid £100 million for it in 2015.

By purchasing Hamleys - a renowned 259-year-old British retailer whose flagship outlet on London's Regent Street is also a tourist attraction - Ambani may also be setting himself up to take on rivals way beyond India. Reliance alreadyowns the rights to the brand in India, where it operates 88 Hamleys franchise stores.

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The famous London toy retailer Hamleys has been sold to its Indian business partner, Reliance Industries, in a deal worth almost £70m.

Ambani's company Reliance Brands announced: "The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand places Reliance into the frontline of global retail". Mehta said they will open close to 100 stores of Hamleys in the next few months. In 2017 it closed a number of loss-making stores in the UK, Ireland and Nordic countries, a restructuring that helped turn that year's £12m loss into a profit of £2.4m in 2018.

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It has struggled with profitably in recent years, and has changed hands several times in the past decade.

The company's Reliance Brands subsidiary signed an agreement yesterday to buy Hamleys from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings.

Hamleys started with a single-store shop, Noah's Ark, in 1760. Apart from Britain, it has its reserves in China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa, and West Asia.

Hamleys was delisted from the London Stock Exchange (LSE) in 2003 when it was taken over by Icelandic investment firm Baugur Group for United States dollars 68.8 million.

Personally, it is a dream come true, he added. It is a massive store of seven floors and retails around 50,000 toys.

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