Hong Kong: C.banner International Holdings Limited (hereinafter referred to as “C.banner”), a well-known Hong Kong-listed Chinese private enterprise, and Ludendo Enterprises SAS (hereinafter referred to as “Ludendo”), held a joint press conference wherein the two announced that they will sign the sale and purchase agreement with regard to the acquisition of all the issued shares of the British toy store Hamleys. Chen Yixi, Chairman of the Board of C.banner, Rudolph Hidalgo, Chief Executive Director of Ludendo, Jean Micdhel Grunberg, President of Lundendo, and Gudjon Reynisson, Chief Executive Officer of Hamleys attended the press conference. Chairman of Sanpower Group Yuan Yafei and Executive Chairman of House of Fraser Frank Slevin also showed up. This is quite likely another British century-old store to be acquired by a Chinese enterprise after Sanpower Group secured the British quintessential department store House of Fraser.
The world’s largest toy store
As a household name in the UK, Hamleys toy store boasts a time-honoured history of 255 years, founded by William Hamley in High Holborn, London, in 1760. Originally named “Noah’s Ark”, the store sold assorted offerings collected by himself, ranging from rag dolls to tin soldiers, from iron hoops to hobby-horses, which represented William Hamley’s yearning for the world’s best toy store.
In 1881, the company opened a flagship store in the Regent Street of London, and it has been in operation until now. Meanwhile, to commemorate William Hamley the founder, the store changed its name to “Hamleys”. Today, the Regent Street flagship store of Hamleys is the world’s largest toy store, with a business area of over 50,000 sqm. on seven storeys and 450,000 multifarious toys pigeon-holed into approximately 10,000 categories. Not only does it manifest such an unrivalled scale, it also holds the British “Royal Warrant”. The store owns a multitude of toy showcases for interaction and trial play. Even the store itself has become a major tourist attraction in London, attracting a yearly influx of about 5 million visitors.
In its history, Hamleys has worked myriad miracles, and established itself as a dreamland for the British and even the whole world. Even the toddler room and games room that have once housed the Queen of England and her kids also come from this dreamland.
In recent years, Hamleys has been expanding its businesses gradually, and presently it is operating over 50 outlets around the world, with toys also offered for sale on-line. Gudjon Reynisson, CEO of Hamleys, noted that Hamleys has strong growth prospects overseas, especially in the US and may eventually runs more than 100 international stores.
Transnational strategic synergy
Many are wondering the intention underlying the footwear retailer C.banner’s acquisition of the British century-old toy store.
C.banner said in the announcement that the acquisition of Hamleys is only a prelude to C.banner’s implementation of global brand strategy and business diversification. Upon completion of the acquisition, C.banner will actively explore the chances of cooperation between Hamleys and C.banner’s existing businesses, with a view to achieving greater synergies.
The announcement revealed that by virtue of the acquisition of Hamleys, C.banner will expand its retail businesses, and consider establishing deep relationships with department stores, so as to further promote the win-win development of its products and department stores through their brands and channels. In addition, House of Fraser – a British quintessential department store acquired last year by Nanjing Cenbest, a department store held by C.banner’s strategic partner Sanpower Group – may hopefully become C.banner’s priority business strategic partner. C.banner hopes to implement its global brand strategy through introducing the products of House of Fraser and Hamleys, as well as capitalising on their channels to export its products overseas.
The announcement also said that in the future C.banner will continue to actively explore business opportunities at home and abroad through mergers, acquisitions, strategic partnerships, as well as the establishment of other business relationships with leading retailer brands, to further implement its global brand strategy.
Insiders analyse that Sanpower Group is also aspiring to international strategy. Its strategic partner C.banner’s cross-border acquisition of Hamleys may well be the synergic initiative of Sanpower for transnational retail development.
Model of “Concept Retail Display”
As the world’s largest toy store, Hamleys has in its inventory all kinds of toys. What is even more appealing, however, is that Hamleys has proposed a unique model featuring “Concept Retail Display”. A case in point: there are numerous toy showcases in Hamleys with animation demonstration. People can play with the toys and even interact with them. Non-operable toys may also be showcased in a dynamic manner. For example, as a customer sees a teddy bear descending from above, the staff will deliberately remote-control an aircraft close up to the customer. Hamleys’ “Concept Retail Display” model provides customers with a thrilling shopping environment, and has attracted numerous customers by easily breaking the age limit for playing with toys.
The industry believes that Hamleys’ “Concept Retail Display” model bears business synergy with Sanpower Group, and coincides with the “Leisurely” philosophy advocated by Sanpower Plazas, the real estate projects developed by Sanpower Group in a host of cities. As a commercial complex intended by Sanpower to synergise its various industrial resources, Sanpower Plaza provides shopping, catering, leisure, entertainment, culture, etc. experiences for urban and rural residents.
It is reported that what Sanpower Plaza advocates is a laid-back, relaxing and pleasant “leisurely” life experience. Different from traditional commercial complexes, this business model assembles consumers of all ages, all types and in all periods of time. By bringing them brand-new “leisurely” shopping experience, it has thereby rendered shopping a pleasant trip. Therefore, Sanpower Plaza will not only introduce Sanpower Group’s high-end department stores and telecommunications chain brands, but also novelty products from abroad and fantastic world-class marine parks. After being acquired by C.banner, Hamleys will also hopefully appear in Sanpower Plaza, thus becoming a hot spot for customers.
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