Mukesh Ambani has brought this 261-year-old British icon back to life

Selon Darshan Mehta, PDG d’Ambani, Hamleys, une icône britannique du commerce de détail qui n’a pas réalisé de bénéfices depuis plusieurs années, prévoit de quadrupler ses magasins dans l’ancienne colonie malitannique à 500 en trois Epidemic. Reliance Brands Ltd. In an interview, she said that in addition to the main growing market, the company is also adding stores from Europe, South Africa and China.

Ambani, 63, bought Hamleys in 2019 to bolster its commercial presence as part of the ongoing transformation of its oil and chemical conglomerate Reliance Industries Ltd. In the consumer and tech giant. The deep pockets of Asia’s richest man and the demographics of India could help breathe new life into the Hamleys, whose share of global Games sales was estimated at 0.6% last year by Euromonitor International, and sees them removing the pitfalls facing its competitors. Like Toys “R” Us Inc.

With a lender net worth of $ 75 billion, Hamleys is trying to exploit what he sees as an insufficient portion of India’s 1.4 billion people, about 27% of whom are children under the age of 14. The country accounts for only 1% of the $ 90 billion global gaming industry, which means the potential for growth is high, Mehta said.

“There is a lot of leeway and India is far from saturated,” Mehta said. “We are now thinking about how to spread stores to new geographies and new formats.”

Hamleys is well-known for its Carnival Experience, which allows children to run in miniature cars, enjoy miniature trains, and play various games. In a country like India, with its densely populated cities and limited entertainment options, this environment can be an attractive factor that keeps returning customers. Mehta said product prices that attract low-income as well as ultra-rich shoppers make Hamleys a “resilient brand.”

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Mark Alonso, chief research analyst at the London-based Euromonitor, said in Asia that Hamleys are “top notch and are on par with Harrods in some respects”. “So it is attracting this customer base, which is why it has seen good sales growth in some countries like India and China in recent years.”

As the pandemic has affected parts of the Indian economy, Mehta views the gaming industry as a “sign of recession” as many families prefer children’s happiness over anything else.

But other chains struggled before the virus. Toys “R” Us was the biggest victim of the US retail apocalypse when it filed for bankruptcy in 2017, after it was crushed by debt and paralyzed by competition from online sellers such as Inc. The road to recovery. New owner, a prolonged pandemic indicates an uncertain future for retailers. According to Reliance, stopping online sales is critical to avoiding the fate of other high-end gaming franchises. As part of Ambani’s e-commerce and technology hub, his group is building Jiomart, a shopping portal, to confront giants like and Walmart’s Flipkart in the local market. Reliance Industries has partnered with Facebook Inc. And Google as investors to fuel these ambitions.

With Covid-19 speeding up the group’s digital strategy, Mehta expects 30% of Hamleys’ sales to come from online orders within five years, up from 20% today. He said that direct sales by phone or via WhatsApp will account for 20% during the same period.

Euromonitor’s Alonso said the target was probably too ambitious as some clients could access another portal at cheaper rates. Alonso said, “You can get the same product much cheaper by going directly to Lego, for example, on their e-commerce site.”

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Founded by William Hamley in 1760, the Hamleys have had their share of problems. The London-based chain has changed ownership at least three times in the past decade alone: ​​from an Icelandic bank to a French group, then to a Chinese fashion retailer. Two years ago, Ambani bought it for about $ 89 million in cash. Hamleys’ most recent book for 2019 shows nearly 9 million pounds ($ 12.4 million) lost in sales of 48 million pounds.

The outbreak of the pandemic a few months after the acquisition of Reliance has exacerbated Hamleys’ financial woes in the United Kingdom, where it operates 21 stores. Like most shops on the deserted streets of London, its seven-story flagship store on Regent Street, which opened in 1881, was closed for most of the past year until the start of the week, as it took a quarter of its staff to overcome the crisis.

Mehta believes that UK operations will “come out strong” with non-essential stores reopening this week after the border eased. Another wave of the Coronavirus could temporarily disrupt activity globally, such as delaying plans for the United States, a market it wants to shatter.

The pandemic has limited the target of Hamleys in India to about 50 new stores this year before the launch ramp-up. Reliance CEO said the game retailer is looking for outlets in the US this year or next year, depending on travel restrictions, as well as tourist hot spots in European countries, including France and Italy.

However, India is likely to be a major market, said Arvind Singhal, head of the Indian consulting firm Technopack Advisors. With around 26 million babies born in the country every year, Hamleys is unlikely to lack customers, even if only the richest 5% of the population were able to shop at her store, he said.

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“Games are a category in which emotions sometimes outweigh your financial ability,” said Singhal. “Hamleys is probably one of Ambani’s best investments in retail: Hamleys’ brand vision in India is unparalleled.”

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