RIL to acquire British toy-maker Hamleys for Rs 620 cr

Andrew Cummings
May 10, 2019

Reliance Brands Ltd. agreed to purchase the 259-year-old British toy-store chain Hamleys from C.Banner International Holdings Ltd. for nearly 68 million pounds ($88.5 million) in cash, the unit of Ambani's Reliance Industries Ltd. said in a statement late Thursday.

The deal will make Hamleys Reliance's first overseas retail brand, expanding its current portfolio which is primarily focused in Indian supermarkets.

The Reliance Brands subsidiary operates a chain of 88 Hamleys franchise stores. It now has 167 stores across 18 countries.

"Reliance Brands would acquire 100 percent equity shares of "Hamleys Global Holdings Limited (HGHL) for a cash consideration of GBP 67.96 million", RIL said in a BSE filing". In 2015, a Chinese fashion conglomerate C Banner International acquired Hamleys for £100 million in a cash deal from the french group.

"The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail", said Darshan Mehta, chief executive of Reliance Brands.

In recent years he has massively expanded his retail portfolio, snapping up a string of well-known brands such as Burberry, Canali, Paul Smith, Armani, Just Cavalli and Jimmy Choo. Besides the United Kingdom, it has stores in China, Germany, Russia, India, South Africa and West Asia.

Reliance is already the country's biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in terms of revenue and number of stores.

"We have built a very significant and profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India".

Reliance will be Hamleys fourth global owner since it was bought off the London stock exchange in 2003, during a period which has also seen it under the control of French and Icelandic owners. In 2012, it was sold for United States dollars 78.4 million to Groupe Ludendo of France.

Founded in 1760, Hamleys is the world's oldest toy shop and over the last 16 years the retailer, best known for its seven-storey store on Regent Street, in London, has passed from owners in Iceland, to France and, most recently, to China. It is considered one of London's prominent tourist attractions, receiving over 5 million visitors each year.

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