Chinese investor Sanpower is reported to be preparing a bid for international toy retailer Hamleys.
Sanpower is the company which bought 79 per cent of UK department store chain House of Fraser last year with the intention of expanding the business into China, paying £480 million ($790.3 million).
UK newspaper The Sunday Times reports Sanpower is in discussions with France’s Groupe Ludendo, Hamleys parent, in what would be the first of several planned investments in European retailing.
Sanpower is targeting retailers with strong brands and long history – and with strong cashflow and international presence – to expand the brands into China where a growing middle class clamours for foreign branded goods.
House of Fraser will open three department stores in China’s mainland – in Nanjing, Chongqing and Xuzhou – between next year and 2017.
Hamleys, which recently opened a giant flagship in Moscow and has this month announced plans for its Vietnam debut, was founded in 1760, originally branded Noah’s Ark.
It’s London flagship on Regent St opened in 1881. Groupe Ludendo bought Hamleys from collapsed Icelandic bank Landsbanki three years ago for £60 million.