Toy shop Hamleys to increase India store count to 32 in 6 months

Hamleys CEO Gudjon Reynisson says India is a very successful and important market for Hamleys toys retail sales that is rapidly growing

Hamleys CEO Gudjon Reynisson. Photo: Bloomberg
Hamleys CEO Gudjon Reynisson. Photo: Bloomberg

Mumbai: Iconic British toy shop chain Hamleys is planning to open six more stores in India in the next six months, taking its total store count in the country to 32 by the end of March.

On 11 October, the 256-year-old brand, along with local partner Reliance Lifestyle Holdings Ltd, opened stores in Noida, Ludhiana and Bengaluru, taking its total store count to 26, the largest number for any country globally.

“India is a very successful and important market for Hamleys toys retail sales that is rapidly growing. We have a strong partner in Reliance Brands, and their understanding of the Hamleys ethos and expert knowledge have made India one of the most important markets for us globally,” Gudjon Reynisson, chief executive officer, Hamleys, said in a statement.

Reliance Brands is the holding company of Reliance Lifestyle Holdings.

The three latest Hamleys stores are at Noida’s Logix City Centre Mall, Ludhiana’s The Pavilion Mall and Bengaluru’s VR mall.

Competition to woo India’s children seems to be heating up. Last month, The Economic Times reported Tablez India, a unit of Abu Dhabi-based LuLu Group, was bringing American toy retail chain major Toys ‘R’ Us to India.

Experts credit the interest in toy chains to the fact that India is one of the youngest nations in the world—29% of its 1.2 billion population is 14 years old or younger, according to the World Bank, making the country an attractive market for brands such as these.

“For retail chains like Hamleys, India has the best demographics. No country produces as many babies as we do,” said Arvind Singhal, chairman of Technopak Advisors Pvt. Ltd, a retail consultancy. “According to the latest census figures, India accounts for approximately 25 million live births per year, a number that is substantially higher than the UK, US, and even China,” he said.

A general rise in incomes as well the fact that people were having children later in life, and therefore had larger disposable incomes, meant that retail chains such as Hamleys were in a sweet spot as far as India was concerned.

“Even if you look at the top 10% of that number, that’s 2.5 million new families, or potential customers, being added each year,” Singhal said.

According to estimates by Darshan Mehta, president and chief executive officer of Reliance Brands, the size of India’s toys industry is pegged at $1.2 billion (about Rs8,000 crore). Of this, 75% of the market, or $900 million, is in the unorganized sector. Organized retail forms the other 25% or $300 million. The market is growing at 20% year on year.

Of the $300 million organized market, Hamleys is the largest player at 20% of the market share by value ($60 million). This is followed by Amazon India and Flipkart, with roughly a 10% share of the market each with a value of $30 million.

Reliance Lifestyle Holdings collaborated with UK-based Hamleys in 2010, marking the brand’s foray into the Indian market with its first store at Mumbai’s High Street Phoenix mall.

Hamleys has quickly grown and is now present in 14 cities across 26 stores in India. The iconic British toy brand retails through 83 stores in 23 countries worldwide, with 12 stores in the UK. India now tops as the country that features the most number of Hamleys stores across the globe.