India’s richest man is the new owner of Hamleys

By guest author Elias Jahshan from Retail Gazette

  • Richest man in India, Mukesh Ambani, is now the new owner of Hamleys
  • Ambani’s company, Reliance Industries, acquired the British toy retailer in a GBP 70 million deal
  • The firm’s Reliance Retail division already operates Hamleys’ 88 stores in India
Mukesh Ambani

The richest man in India is now the new owner of Hamleys after his company acquired the iconic British toy retailer in a GBP 70 million deal.

Reliance Industries, the company owned by Ambani, said it had signed an agreement to buy Hamleys from China’s C.banner International which had acquired it in 2015.

Reliance Industries’ retail arm Reliance Retail operates Hamleys’ 88-strong retail estate across 29 cities in India.

“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand…. is a long cherished dream come true,” Reliance chief executive Darshan Mehat said in a statement.

Reliance has a track record in the telecoms sector but is now reportedly eyeing up a retail onslaught as the likes of Amazon and Walmart continue to grow rapidly in India.

Hamleys was put up for sale by C.banner after the toy chain recorded a pre-tax loss of GBP 12 million for the 2017 fiscal year, according to accounts filed last October.

This compared to a profit of GBP 2.6 million in the same period of the previous year.

Hamleys Storefront (caption courtesy Retail Gazette)

However, Hamleys said UK like-for-like sales improved by 2.7 % in 2018.

The heritage retailer attributed the weak performance to tough trading conditions, as well as the failure to come up with a transformation plan.

Hamleys, which was founded in 1760, is the world’s oldest toy retailer and has 167 stores across 18 countries.

According to Forbes, 62-year-old Ambani is worth USD 50.7 billion (GBP 38.95 billion).