A year ago, the toy industry was buzzing with reports that UK-based Hamleys was looking to enter the U.S. market with a 30,000 square-foot flagship in New York City’s Herald Square. By May, the buzz had worn off as Hamleys Global Holdings Ltd. was acquired by billionaire Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Brands Ltd.
Now the buzz of a U.S. expansion is back.
In a new interview published by The Guardian, Reliance Brands’ CEO Darshan Mehta says that the company has big plans for the U.S., where it expects to open stores in major markets once served by Toys “R” Us.
The news comes as Hamleys plots a redesign of its flagship store on London’s Regent Street. Mehta says the last serious investment in the store was more than 20 years ago, and that when the remodel is complete, the store will be hailed as “the finest toy shop in the world,” and as the leading “toy retailing reference point in the world.”
In the UK, Hamleys faces competition from the likes of Smyths, The Entertainer, and Toymaster. The company already has a North American presence with several stores in Mexico.
At the time of its acquisition this year, Hamleys was operating 167 stores across 18 countries. Prior to the sale, Reliance held the master franchise license for the retailer in India, operating 88 stores in 29 cities.