Hamleys 'to open store in India'

Toy shop Hamleys looks to be nearing a deal which could see it open its first store in India, according to reports today.

Toy shop Hamleys looks to be nearing a deal which could see it open its first store in India, according to reports today.

Hamleys, which is owned by Icelandic investor Baugur, is understood to have identified a site in Delhi, as well as an Indian retail partner, The Sunday Telegraph said.

If the negotiations are successful, the toys giant could start trading in India as early as next year.

Baugur, which bought Hamleys in June 2003 for €69m, has been looking to expand the chain and earlier this year announced plans to open sites in House of Fraser stores in major UK cities, including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester and Birmingham and Belfast.

It is also due to open its first standalone overseas store in Dubai later in the year, and holds franchise deals for four more stores in the Middle East. The group is also looking at entering the Chinese market.

A Baugur spokesperson told The Sunday Telegraph that the company had identified a possible retail partner in India, but said that no deal has yet been signed. No one from the firm was available to comment today.

Hamleys, which has its flagship store on Regent Street, currently has only a small presence overseas after Baugur introduced Hamleys concessions into three of its Magasin du Nord department stores in Denmark, the success of which led Baugur to roll-out the brand across the UK.

India’s fast growing economy has seen it become an increasingly attractive market for UK retailers, as names such as Argos and Mothercare look to enhance their growth opportunities. But stiff regulations make it difficult for most retailers to enter the Indian market.

However, franchising is seen as one way for UK retailers to break into the country and many firms have formed deals with retail partners to build a presence there.

In February, Argos signed a franchising agreement with two of India’s leading retailers – Shopper’s Stop and Hypercity Retail India – to develop the Argos retail format in India. It plans to open stores, initially based in the Mumbai region, by the end of the year.

Mothercare opened its first stores in India in 2006 and now has 12 stores in the country. It said last week that following the success of its Indian venture it now plans to ramp up its expansion with the addition of 100 stores over the next five years.

Hamleys was established in 1760 by William Hamley in Holborn and started trading on Regent Street in 1881.

It was one of the first retail purchases Baugur made in the UK. Since then it has snapped up a number of household names including Nine West, Coast, Karen Millen, Pied a Terre and House of Fraser.

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