Hamleys acquisition catapults Reliance Brands into dominant role in global toy retail industry
Reliance Brands Ltd, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd, has acquired British toy retailer Hamleys for about INR 620 crore in an all-cash deal. According to an announcement by the company, Reliance Brands signed an agreement to acquire a 100% stake in Hamleys Global Holdings Ltd from Hong Kong-based C.banner International.
Darshan Mehta, President and CEO of Reliance Brands, said, “We have built a very significant and profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India. This worldwide acquisition places Reliance on the frontline of global retail. Personally, it is a long-cherished dream come true.”
Hamleys has 167 stores across 18 countries. In India, Reliance Retail has the master franchise for the brand and operates 88 stores across 29 cities. In the past, Reliance Retail tied-up with reputed global brands such as Diesel, Marks and Spencers, Steve Madden and Kenneth Cole. As on 31 December 2018, Reliance Retail operated 9,907 stores across over 6,400 cities with a retail area of over 21 million sq.ft.
Founded in London in 1760, Hamleys has seen many acquisitions over the years. In June 2003, an Icelandic investment company, Baugur Group, bought it for $68.8 million. In 2012, it was sold for $78.4 million to France’s Groupe Ludendo. C.banner International, which also owns the Chinese units of retail brands like Steve Madden and Sundance, acquired Hamleys in 2015 for £100 million.
In 2017, Hamleys reported losses of £12 million in 2017 and profits dropped by almost 500%. CEO Ralph Cunningham blamed the poor performance on Brexit, terrorist attacks as well as slowing economic conditions while expecting the company to turnaround in 2018. It was reported that C.banner International was keen to sell the company to cut its losses.