The acquisition of the 250-year-old toy retailer would offer Reliance a global footprint in the toy market.
When contacted, a Reliance spokesperson said: “As a policy, we do not comment on media speculation and rumours. Our company evaluates various opportunities on an ongoing basis. We have made and will continue to make necessary disclosures in compliance with our obligations under Securities Exchange Board of India (Listing Obligations and Disclosure Requirements) Regulations 2015 and our agreements with the stock exchanges.”
For Reliance Retail, the acquisition of Hamleys would give it a global footprint in the toy industry. Though Reliance Retail has built a big sales network in India which includes fuel sales, it has no footprint overseas. Hamleys reported a loss of $15.6m in 2017 and revenues of $86.5m, thanks to market pressures including negative currency effects.
Founded in 1760 as a one store shop called Noah’s Ark, Hamleys opened its London flagship store in 1881 and now has 129 outlets across Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. In India, it already has a tie up with Reliance Brands to open 20 more Hamleys stores.
Hamleys Global Holdings, Hamleys’ ultimate parent company, said in October 2018 that its sales are improving with 2.7% rise in sales growth in the first eight months of 2018 in the UK. The company also forecast that it will return to net profitability in the next 12 months.