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Hamleys Hong Kong takeover

Hamleys – the world’s oldest toy retailer – has been bought by a Hong Kong investor.

As rumoured last week, the business has been sold to interests connected with the Sanpower Group in China’s mainland, which last year acquired UK department store House of Fraser.

The buyer is C.banner International Holdings Limited, a Hong Kong-listed Chinese private enterprise, which describes itself as a strategic partner of Sanpower.

The new owners plan to speed up the international rollout of the brand – and to pursue opportunities for concessions in department stores.

In a statement, the new owners say they hope House of Fraser will “become C.banner’s priority business strategic partner”.

“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,” the company said in a statement.

“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.

“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.”

French owner Ludendo, which rescued Hamleys from a collapsed Icelandic bank three years ago for just £60 million, has already grown the business into an international toy brand, opening stores in Russia, Malaysia, Singapore – and last week in Vietnam. The company now has 53 stores owned or franchised. It turned over £62 million last year and posted a profit of £4.5 million.

Founded in 1760 as Noah’s Ark, Hamleys opened its Regent St flagship store in London’s West End in 1881.

*Photo: From left to right: Chen Yixi, chairman of the board of C.banner, Yuan Yafei, chairman of Sanpower Group, Gudjon Reynisson, CEO of Hamleys, Jean Micdhel Grunberg, president of Lundendo, Rudolph Hidalgo, chief executive director of Ludendo, at a press conference announcing the sale.

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