Hamleys becomes le jouet du Groupe Ludendo

The 250-year-old toy business has been acquired by French Groupe Ludendo for £60m.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
Hamleys, or should that now be ‘Amleez, has come over all Continental. Groupe Ludendo has bought the whole business, lock, stock, and Lego barrel and plans to expand the brand into lucrative markets in China and beyond.
 
Although viewed as a quintessentially British institution, Hamleys, which has a flagship store on Regent Street, already boasts outlets in Europe, the Middle East, India and Russia. Ludendo is hoping to increase the brand’s presence in these countries (MT has visions of unpacking Hamleys’ stores like Russian dolls) and wants to build up a pan-Asian business.
 
The £60m price tag will be divvied up between Hamleys current owners: multimillionaire property tycoon David Rowland will get around £18m, and Icelandic bank Landesbanki will get the rest. The deal will come as a great relief to Landesbanki’s creditors who have been waiting, cap in hand, to get some of their money back after the Viking banking bubble burst. To briefly recap, Hamleys was owned by the now-dead Baugur, and then picked up by Landesbanki, which was then nationalized in 2008.
 
Groupe Ludendo is a nice fit for Hamleys. It’s a family business – as Hamleys once was – and owns a couple of other historic retail brands - La Grande Récré and Franz Carl Weber – alongside a portfolio of over 300 stores. It certainly seems enthusiastic about Hamleys too: general manager Rudolph Hidalgo says of the acquisition: ‘Hamleys is such a wonderful brand. For people who are working in the toys world, it’s really a dream!’
 
FUN FACT: When Hamleys was first founded back in 1760 by William Hamley, the store was called Noah’s Ark. Given its ability to stay afloat through several recessions, years of unprofitability and many changes in ownership, the name was prophetic…

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