Last fall, not long after FAO Schwarz returned to New York City with a new flagship store, the toy industry was buzzing with news that another icon might be plotting an outpost in the Big Apple —  Hamleys.

A UK staple with a lineage that dates back to 1760 when William Hamley opened “Noah’s Ark” — the retailer was said to be nearing a deal to open a two-story U.S. flagship at 2 Herald Square. At the time, sources said that the deal was expected to close early this year, with a target opening in 2020. Now, Hamleys has a new owner.

Earlier this month, Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Brands Ltd. acquired Hamleys Global Holdings Ltd., which operates 167 stores across 18 countries. In India, Reliance has held the master franchise license for the retailer, operating 88 stores in 29 cities.

“Over the last few years, we have built a very significant and profitable business in toy retailing under the Hamleys brand in India,” says Darshan Mehta, president and CEO of Reliance Brands. “The 250-year-old English toy retailer pioneered the concept of experimental retailing, decades before the concept of creating unique experiences in brick and mortar retailing became the new norm. The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail. Personally, it is a long-cherished dream come true.”

As Reliance takes charge with ambitions of becoming a global player in toy retailing, it remains to be seen if Hamleys’ Herald Square project will move forward. The company already has a North American presence with several stores in Mexico. Will the U.S. and Canada be next?

About the author

James Zahn

James Zahn

James Zahn, AKA The Rock Father, is Editor-in-Chief of The Toy Book, a Senior Editor at The Toy Insider and The Pop Insider, and Editor of The Toy Report, The Toy Book‘s weekly industry newsletter. As a pop culture and toy industry expert, Zahn has appeared as a panelist and guest at events including Comic-Con International: San Diego (SDCC) Wizard World Chicago, and the ASTRA Marketplace & Academy. Zahn has more than 30 years of experience in the entertainment, retail, and publishing industries, and is frequently called upon to offer expert commentary for publications such as Forbes, Marketwatch, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, USA Today, Reuters, the Washington Post, and more. James has appeared on History Channel’s Modern Marvels, was interviewed by Larry King and Anderson Cooper, and has been seen on Yahoo! Finance, CNN, CNBC, FOX Business, NBC, ABC, CBS, WGN, The CW, and more. Zahn joined the Adventure Media & Events family in 2016, initially serving as a member of the Parent Advisory Board after penning articles for the Netflix Stream Team, Fandango Family, PBS KIDS, Sprout Parents (now Universal Kids), PopSugar, and Chicago Parent. He eventually joined the company full time as a Senior Editor and moved up the ranks to Deputy Editor and Editor-in-Chief.