Mukesh Ambani’s Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Thursday announced that it has acquired British toy retailer Hamleys for 67.96 million pounds (around Rs 620 crore). Reliance Industries Ltd, through its subsidiary Reliance Brands, signed an agreement to pick up a 100% stake in the 258-year-old toy retailer from C Banner International Holdings, a Hong Kong-listed company, which is selling Hamleys just within five years of buying it for nearly 100 million pounds.
Globally, Hamleys has 167 stores across 18 countries but has been struggling to make profits. The deal with Reliance Retail would be Hamleys' fourth change of ownership in 15 years following a succession of largely failed attempts by a range of international shareholders to expand the brand globally.
But before Reliance Industries grabbed Hamleys, other companies too were trying to acquire the global toy maker. Let’s take a look at who all Reliance pipped to buy Hamleys:
1. Mike Ashley, the founder of UK’s largest sports goods retailer Sports Direct, was reportedly considering a bid to take over Hamleys. Ashley is a British billionaire retail entrepreneur. He entered the department store industry in the UK following the acquisition of House of Fraser in 2018 for 90 million pounds.
2. The Entertainer, the UK’s largest independent toy retailer run by founder Gary Grant, was also said to have formally submitted its interest in buying Hamleys. The Entertainer operates 144 toy shops across the UK. The Entertainer recently announced that it had acquired Poly, a chain of 55 toy shops in Spain, as well as the Early Learning Centre, which operates 80 Mothercare stores in the UK as well as 400 stores internationally via franchise partners and online.
3. The Irish toy shop chain Smyths was also said to have expressed an initial interest in making an offer. Smyths Toys Superstores is an Ireland-based multinational chain provider of children’s toys and entertainment products with over 110 shops throughout Ireland and the UK, which is owned by the Smyth family.
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