If you are in among the top 25 cities of the country, you could hope to get a Hamleys toy store near you. The British toy retailer currently has some 14 stores in 8 cities, and Reliance Brands, part of the Mukesh Ambani led Reliance Industries Group which brought the iconic 255-year old toy retailer to India, is planning to open more stores if they get the right location and spot.
“Hamleys can be there in top 25 cities in India, but they have to be in the right spot and the right mall. Malls are becoming the ideal weekend destinations for families and getting the right spot and the right mall is very crucial for us,” said Darshan Mehta, president and CEO, Reliance Brands. Mehta did not give any timeline for setting up the stores.
Hamleys is betting on creating a ‘theatre of toys’. “This is a very different approach to what traditional stores have. Kids should have fun and get the touch and feel of a toy. Also, once a child plays with a toy, the chances of a transaction happening are higher. In earlier days, toys were bought because of pester-power. Now things are changing,” he said.
Asked about its business growth in India, Karandeep Singh, business head for Hamleys India, said: “We don’t want to quote a number here but it has been a great experience so far.”
About the relevance of toys in a world where kids are preferring electronic gadgets, Singh said, the organised toy market in India is growing 20 per cent year on year. Toys are now sold across a wide variety of categories like preschool, soft toys, arts and crafts, build it, action toys, games, outdoor and vehicles.
The UK-based toy store entered the Indian market through an exclusive franchise arrangement with Reliance Retail in 2010, and so far has stores in Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai and Chandigarh among others.
Incidentally, just last week it was reported that the London-located Hamley is in advanced stage buyout talks with Hong Kong-listed footwear retailer C.banner International Holdings for about £100m. In 2012, the world’s oldest toystore was reportedly sold to French toy retailer, Groupe Ludendo, for about £60m.
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