Hamleys, a renowned toy brand established in London in 1760, operates in England, Scotland and Ireland. At present, the brand - which sells a wide selection of some of the finest toys in the world – is embarking on an overseas international expansion programme and already has stores in Dubai, Jordan, Denmark, India and Cyprus. Gudjon Reynisson, CEO of Hamleys, speaks about the expansion. He said: “We have 16 stores around the world and we have identified 15,000 sq ft as a minimum size for a Hamleys flagship store. We also operate a smaller ‘travel store’ format, predominantly seen at airports and train stations, where we would consider going as low as 1,500 sq ft.|
“We have a very simple strategy. We own the stores in the UK and Ireland but our intention is to franchise everywhere else.” The latest Hamleys openings were in the capital cities of Cyprus and Denmark, Nicosia and Copenhagen. Hamleys plans to open a further three stores before April 2012 in DLF Place in Delhi, India; in Panorama Mall in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and one in Kuwait.
When speaking about the types of location Hamleys considers, Reynisson explains: “We tend to go for malls because they are becoming the norm in retail. We open in high street locations with high footfall, but in markets with extreme heat or cold, or where there isn’t a culture of high street shopping the malls are the place to be.”
During 2011 Hamleys has seen a good level of growth with UK business up on like-for-like basis 9.6 per cent and the international business up 38.9 per cent. “Our international business has shown a strong like-for-like growth year-on-year. We are now in a position where 30 per cent of worldwide sales come from outside the UK. “We have seen a big growth in all of our markets. I am very pleased to see how well we have been received in India; it’s very exciting for us to see the potential of that market.
“What’s important for the Hamleys is to stay true to and further develop the magical experiential toy retail that we are known for. It’s about inviting the customers to come to our stores and play and have fun, indulging in the magic of Hamleys and the abundance of toys."
“We take toys out of the boxes and you are allowed to play with them. There is a big difference between our proposition and that of our competitors. It isn’t just about coming in to buy products. We design the stores in such a way that they offer space to play with the toys.” The company’s flagship store is its London home on Regent Street – 5,400 sqm of toys over seven floors of total toy madness – by far the largest Hamleys store in the world. Next year will see a multi million pound refurbishment of the store, starting in January 2012 and completed before the Olympics in the summer. “The multi million pound refurbishment of Hamleys Regent Street is going to introduce a plethora of things to enhance the magic,” he said.
For the full article please see the RLI November 2011 issue