Yuan Yafei, chairman of conglomerate Sanpower, is understood to be in talks to buy Hamleys from its French owner, Groupe Ludendo.
The Chinese billionaire purchased House of Fraser, for £480m, a year ago and plans to open the first three House of Fraser stores in China. His empire spreads across finance, property, media, transport and IT and now employs 30,000 people with assets worth nearly £5 billion
William Hamley opened the first branch of Hamleys in 1760 in Holborn under the name Noah’s Ark. Hamleys moved to its flagship Regent Street site in 1881 and the company has expanded since it was purchased by Groupe Ludendo in 2012 – it now has close to 40 stores around the world.