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Hamleys is a British multinational toy retailer, owned by the Indian company Reliance Retail. It was founded by William Hamley as "Noah's Ark" in High Holborn, London, in 1760. It moved to its current site on Regent Street in 1881. This flagship store is set over seven floors, with more than 50,000 lines of toys on sale. It receives around five million visitors each year. The chain has 15 outlets in the United Kingdom[2] and also has more than 90 franchises worldwide.

Founded1760; 261 years ago (1760)
FounderWilliam Hamley
Headquarters2 Foubert Place London, W1
United Kingdom
Number of locations
15 in UK; 90 international franchises
Area served
RevenueBritish pound 5.5million[1] (2017)
OwnerReliance Retail


Hamleys is the oldest and largest toy shop in the world.[3][4] It is named after William Hamley, who founded a toy shop called "Noah's Ark" at No. 231 High Holborn, London, in 1760. Ownership of the shop passed through the family, and by the time it was operated by Hamley's grandsons in 1837, the store had become famous, counting royalty and nobility among its customers.[5]

A branch at 200 Regent Street was opened in 1881. The original High Holborn store was destroyed by fire in 1901 and subsequently relocated to 86–87 High Holborn.[6]

Hamleys suffered a downturn through the 1920s and closed, entering receivership, in 1931.[5] After ensuring that it wouldn't alienate their competition,[7] the Lines Bros toy company, Hamleys' largest debtor, purchased the company and reopened the Regent Street store by the end of that year, keeping it largely independent.[7] The High Holborn branch, opened in 1901, would not reopen under the new ownership[7]

In 1938, Queen Mary, consort of King George V, gave Hamleys a royal warrant.[5] During the Second World War, the Regent Street store was bombed five times. In 1955, Queen Elizabeth II gave the company a second royal warrant as a "toys and sports merchant".

In 1981, Hamleys would move to 188–196 Regent Street.[5][7]

Hamleys was bought in June 2003 by the Baugur Group, an Icelandic investment company. When Baugur collapsed, its stake in the toy store was taken over by the Icelandic bank Landsbanki. In September 2012 Groupe Ludendo, a toy retailer based in France with shops also located in Belgium, Spain and Switzerland, bought Hamleys for a reported £60 million.[8]

In October 2015 it was reported that Groupe Ludendo was negotiating the sale of Hamleys, possibly to a Hong Kong company owned by a relative of the owner of department store House of Fraser.[9] It was subsequently purchased by C.Banner, a large Chinese footwear and fashion wear conglomerate based in Nanjing.[10]

In May 2019, Indian retail company, Reliance Retail, part of the Reliance Industries, announced that it has acquired Hamleys for £67.96 million (around ₹620 crore) in an all-cash deal.[11]

United Kingdom storesEdit

Regent StreetEdit

Regent Street shop interior

Hamleys expanded and moved its flagship store from No. 200 Regent Street to its current site at Nos. 188–196, Regent Street, in 1981, which is the largest toy shop in the world.

Hamleys' flagship store has seven floors covering 54,000 square feet (5,000 m2),[12] all devoted to toys, with different categories of toy on each floor. The ground floor is traditionally for stuffed toys (including Steiff), and is decked out with a diverse array of stuffed animals, from regular teddy bears to more exotic plushes such as turtles and dolphins, and enormous life-sized giraffes and elephants. Public transit is available via the Oxford Circus underground station.

Other UK storesEdit

In 1987 Hamleys' second store opened in York. However, it closed less than 12 months later.[13]

In 1987 Hamleys opened a new store in one of the richest shopping streets in the UK, Northumberland Street, Newcastle upon Tyne. Surprisingly, it operated for only 12 months, and closed in 1988. It had seemed a "perfect combination" (Hamleys and Northumberland Street), but it did not work out. Again, in 1987, Hamleys opened a new store in Milsom Street, in the city of Bath, North East Somerset, and just like the other stores, it also closed within 12 months.

Now, in 2019, there are fourteen Hamleys stores across the UK, including sites at the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow,[14] at the Trafford Centre in Greater Manchester, at Lakeside Shopping Centre in Essex, St David's Centre in Cardiff, York and at airports including London Heathrow, London Gatwick, London Stansted,[15] also at Meadowhall Shopping Centre in Sheffield, Liverpool ONE, Cheshire Oaks Outlet, Gateshead Metrocentre and Manchester.

Global storesEdit

A Hamleys store at the shopping mall Emporia in Malmö, Sweden

Hamleys' European footprint existed in Denmark (three small stores) and, since October 2008, the Republic of Ireland, when it opened a 3,250-square-metre (35,000 sq ft) store in Pembroke Avenue, located adjacent to the Town Square in Dundrum, Dublin.[16][17][18] On 12 October 2012, a Hamleys store opened at Nacka in Stockholm, Sweden. On 19 September 2013, a Hamley store opened as part of Steen og Strøm department store in Oslo, Norway. In April 2014 the Hamleys Denmark toy chain closed all four of its Danish locations when its Nordic parent company, Kids Retails, filed for bankruptcy.[19]

Hamleys opened its first store outside Europe in Amman, Jordan, on 18 June 2008. The three-storey store on Mecca Street is run by the group's franchisee Jordan Centre.[20] A Dubai franchise opened with two stores on 4 November 2008.[21]

Hamleys, in Tamil Nadu, India.

The first store in South Asia was opened in Mumbai, India, on 9 April 2010.[12] The 22,000-square-foot (2,000 m2) store is located in an upmarket shopping district in India's financial capital. A second store in India is located in the city of Chennai at the Express Avenue Mall. The 11,000-square-foot (1,000 m2) store has a London bus that customers can walk up through. It now has 78 stores in India, including three stores in Punjab with a recently opened store in Amritsar on 1 February 2018. Hamleys also opened its first store in Bhubaneswar at Esplanade One Mall On 10 January 2019. Hamleys also opened its first store in Lucknow at Fun Republic Mall. With this addition, the brand is now present in 26 cities with 50 stores across India. In Gujarat, Hamleys opened its first store at Ahmedabad One mall with 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) on 9 November 2014.

Inside 'Hamleys' Toy shop, @ FORUM VIJAYA, Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.

Hamleys' opened a store in the Saudi capital Riyadh on 26 January 2012. The 2,100-square-metre (23,000 sq ft) shop is located in the Panorama mall at Takhassusi Street's intersection with Prince Mohammed Road.[22]

In 2012 Hamleys opened its first store in Russia. It now operates two in Moscow, one in Saint-Petersburg and one in Krasnodar.[23]

In 2013, Hamleys announced plans to open 20 stores across India in collaboration with Reliance Brands Ltd..[24] The company also announced that a store would open in the One Utama Shopping Mall in Kuala Lumpur, in November 2013, the first in Southeast Asia. Malaysia is now a home for three Hamleys stores, with new outlets opened in the Quill Mall, Kuala Lumpur and in the satellite terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

In 2014, Hamleys opened its first store in the Philippines. The store opened in Central Square, Bonifacio Highstreet, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig City.[25] A second Philippine Hamleys store is also set to open the following year.[26] Stores Specialists Inc. (SSI) Group is the exclusive distributor of Hamleys in the Philippines.

In 2015, an Abu Dhabi franchise opened with two stores in World Trade Centre Mall (WTC) and Yas Mall, Yas Island.

In July 2015, a store opened in Plaza Singapura, Singapore. This is the first Hamleys store to be established in Singapore.[27] Subsequently, a second store was introduced at Marina Bay Sands.[28]

On 20 August 2015, a store opened in Greenstone Mall, Johannesburg, South Africa. Two other stores have opened in South Africa: at Mall of Africa and Eastgate.

In November 2015, a store opened at Antara Polanco Fashion Mall in Mexico City, its first store in Mexico. As of June 2018, there are four stores in Mexico: one in Querétaro at Antea LifeStyle Center, one in Veracruz at Andamar Lifestyle Center and two in Mexico City at Antara Polanco Fashion Mall and Artz Pedregal.

A store is present in Nicosia, Cyprus. There is also a store in Malta.

In 2016, Hamleys opened a store in Prague, Czech Republic, in Na Příkopě Street.

In 2017, a Hamleys store was opened in Hull, England to celebrate the UK City of Culture, in the shopping centre, Princes Quay.

Also in 2017, a store was opened in Warsaw, Poland, at the Galeria Północna shopping mall.[29]

In April 2018, it was confirmed that the Dublin store would close after being open for 10 years.

In December 2018, it was also announced that the Trafford Centre branch would close after a short time in operation.

In April 2019 it was reported that an Indian Company Reliance Retail was planning to buy out the British toy store chain.[30]

In May 2019 it was confirmed that Reliance Retail, a subsidiary of Reliance Industries Limited on 9 May 2019 signed a definitive agreement for Reliance Retail to acquire 100 per cent shares of Hamleys Global Holdings Limited.[31] Hamleys is planning to open a Hamleys in The Gate Mall in Kuwait.[32]


In the 1990s Hamleys had two websites, one for the UK which did not sell anything, and a U.S. version[33] with a basic inventory. This changed in 1999 with the launch of hamleys.com. The site offered worldwide shipping and focused on user experience, customer service and the sale of traditional products and collectables.[33] The chief executive of Hamleys told Marketing magazine "I do not want to become embroiled with the likes of Toys 'R'Us, Toyzone and eToys, which are fighting on price alone and will end up making next to no margin".[34]

In 2006, a glitch on the website allowed customers to claim a 60% discount on any product.[35][36]

Econsultancy critiqued the site for its basic approach in 2013, and felt that it "doesn't do a lot to represent the brand; in fact, it may even detract from it".[37]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "The Hamleys Group net worth".
  2. ^ "Hamleys Stores - Find Hamleys Store Worldwide". Hamleys. Retrieved 18 June 2020.
  3. ^ Peter Matthews, Michelle Dunkley McCarthy (1994). The Guinness Book of Records 1994. Facts on File. p. 134.
  4. ^ Donald McFarlan, Norris McWhirter (1990). The Guinness Book of Records 1991. Guinness. p. 135.
  5. ^ a b c d "The history of Hamleys - London's famous toy shop". BBC News London. 11 February 2010. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  6. ^ History - once upon a time a boy dreamed of owning a toy shop, Hamleys, retrieved 4 August 2009
  7. ^ a b c d "Category:Hamleys - The Brighton Toy and Model Index". brightontoymuseum.co.uk. Brighton Toy and Model Museum. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  8. ^ "Hamleys toy chain sold to French firm Groupe Ludendo". BBC News Online. 17 September 2012. Retrieved 17 September 2012.
  9. ^ Shah, Oliver (18 October 2015). "Hamleys handover". The Times.
  10. ^ "Official website - C.banner International Holdings". cbanner.com.cn. C.banner International Holdings. Retrieved 6 September 2016.
  11. ^ "Reliance takeover of Hamleys". Mumbai Mirror. 10 May 2019.
  12. ^ a b "UK toy retailer Hamleys opens first store in India". NDTV. 8 April 2010. Archived from the original on 10 April 2010. Retrieved 8 April 2010.
  13. ^ "Hamleys returning to York after 17 years", The Press (York), Newsquest Media Group, 18 October 2005, archived from the original on 4 July 2009, retrieved 8 April 2009
  14. ^ Garavelli, Dani. "London toy shop Hamleys opens its doors in the St Enoch Centre, Glasgow, today.". The Scotsman. 26 November 2009
  15. ^ "A new store at Stansted Airport is child's play for Hamleys". Herts and Essex Observer. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014.
  16. ^ Hamleys Toy Store Opens In Dublin, British Embassy in Ireland, archived from the original on 27 October 2008, retrieved 8 April 2009
  17. ^ http://www.dundrum.ie/pdf/FINAL_03%2006%202008_Hamley%27s%20Consumer%20Release.pdf[permanent dead link]
  18. ^ Fagan, Jack (4 June 2008), "€1 million rent for top toy store Hamleys in Dundrum", The Irish Times, retrieved 8 April 2009
  19. ^ "Hamleys Denmark closes outlets following bankruptcy". cphpost. 2 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  20. ^ Thompson, James (18 June 2008), "Hamleys opens first store overseas", The Independent, retrieved 8 April 2009
  21. ^ Hamleys Dubai opens today, Pigtail Pals, 4 November 2008, retrieved 15 June 2020
  22. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 22 September 2012. Retrieved 28 January 2012.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  23. ^ "Магазин Hamleys (Хэмлис) – плюшевые и интерактивные игрушки, детские товары, конструкторы, гаджеты". www.hamleys.ru.
  24. ^ "Reliance Retail aims to have 20 Hamleys stores in next 3 yrs". 3 February 2013. Retrieved 17 July 2013.
  25. ^ "SSI Group brings in iconic toy brand", Philippine Daily Inquirer, 22 December 2014, retrieved 22 December 2014
  26. ^ Vila, Alixandra Caole (22 December 2014), "Largest toy shop in the world opens branch in the Philippines", Philippine Star, retrieved 22 December 2014
  27. ^ http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/british-toy-giant-hamleys-lands-in-singapore-8238262
  28. ^ hermes (23 July 2015). "British toy store Hamleys opens here". The Straits Times.
  29. ^ "New shopping mall opens in Warsaw". Property-Forum.eu. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  30. ^ "Reliance Retail may buy out British toy store chain Hamleys". The Economic Times. 17 April 2019.
  31. ^ "Reliance Industries buys global toy retailer Hamleys". The Economic Times. 19 May 2019.
  32. ^ title=Hamley's Opening in The Gate Mall|url=https://248am.com/mark/toys/hamleys-opening-in-gate-mall/
  33. ^ a b Doward, Jamie (21 November 1999). "Accountant's plan to make fun of Hamleys Once a Virgin high-flier, Simon Burke now has a British institution as his play thing". The Observer. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  34. ^ "Hamleys revamp aims at US", Marketing, 15 December 1999, retrieved 7 April 2014
  35. ^ "Net Vikings pillage Hamleys website Voucher scheme error provokes festive carnage". theregister.co.uk. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  36. ^ "Hamleys website suffers web glitch - offers toys 60% below true price". computer weekly. 19 December 2006. Retrieved 7 April 2014.
  37. ^ Charlton, G (13 November 2013). "Why is Hamleys failing to make the most of ecommerce?". econsultancy.com. Retrieved 18 November 2013.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°30′46″N 0°08′25″W / 51.5128°N 0.1402°W / 51.5128; -0.1402