Hamleys toy store seals Mideast agreement

Iconic UK toy retailer Hamleys is planning to open at least six stores in the Middle East as part of a bid to expand internationally.

  • E-Mail
By  Andrew White Published  July 16, 2006

Iconic UK toy retailer Hamleys is planning to open at least six stores in the Middle East as part of a bid to expand internationally.

The 250-year old company has signed a franchise agreement with regional retail group Dauods Investments, to open up shops in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Emaar Properties’ upcoming Dubai Mall.

It also plans to launch stores in several Middle Eastern airports, including Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Jeddah.

The retailer is looking to high growth markets to offset tough trading conditions at its flagship store on Regent Street in central London. “The deal is very important for us,” Nick Mather, Hamley’s chief executive, told Arabian Business.

“It’s our first step in terms of global expansion. We are not looking at having hundreds of Hamleys worldwide, but we want to go to selected capital cities where there are lower costs of operation.”

Launched in 1760, Hamleys was bought by Icelandic investment group Baugur in 2003, but has since struggled financially. Although five million people visit its London store every year, it is one of a number of UK retailers faced with intense competition, high rents and disappointing consumer spending.

It opened its first shop outside the UK, in Denmark, six months ago and is in talks with potential partners in India and China.

“The challenge with Hamleys is to expand its distribution,” said Mather. “We have a great brand and we want to leverage that on a global scale. Thirty percent of our customers in London are tourists and we have been around for a long time.”

The partnership with Dauods Investments, which owns Middle Eastern franchises for McDonalds, Yo-Sushi, GBK and Morrelli’s, will see its first store open in Dubai Mall in the autumn of 2007.

“The mall is going to be pretty spectacular,” said Mather. “There will be a lot of residences and businesses in the complex, and with an Armani Hotel it will be a major attraction. There’s a massive increase in tourism and business activity happening in Dubai. The location of the Mall is pretty good and hopefully they will develop the infrastructure.”

He added: “We are very excited about partnering with Dauods Investments, who have extensive experience in franchising in the Middle East, and we hope this will be the start of a number of international franchise developments opening over the next few years.

“We are already getting considerable interest from a number of major franchise players covering various other locations and in particular, we are currently in discussions with potential new partners in both India and China. Our plans for international expansion and the launch of our rapidly expanding new international website will enable Hamleys’ magic to be delivered throughout the world."

Add a Comment

Your display name This field is mandatory

Your e-mail address This field is mandatory (Your e-mail address won't be published)

Security code