Reliance, owned by billionaire Mukesh Ambani, buys Hamleys from its Chinese owner C Banner International for around £ 68 million ($ 88 million).
The deal announced late on Thursday will give Ambani complete control of Hamley’s 167 stores in 18 countries. Reliance already owns the rights to the trademark in India, where it operates 88 Hamley’s franchise stores.
Ambani’s purchase will further push into the retail trade as he prepares to compete with Amazo ( and W )almar, ( who has poured billions into India as they are trying to raise money in the fast-growing e-commerce market. )
“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places trust in global retail,” said Reliance Brands CEO Darshan Mehta in a statement describing it as a “long-lasting dream coming true”.
Ambani is well placed to make a big push in the online retail. He has already taken India’s digital economy with his mobile network Reliance Jio, which has reported more than 300 million users in less than three years since its launch.
In a speech in January, he outlined plans to utilize the digital divide to take the Reliance Retail brand ̵
1; one of India’s largest – on the Internet in the near future.
By buying Hamleys – a famous 259-year-old British dealer whose flagship outlet on London’s Regent Street is also a tourist attraction – Ambani can also sit up to take on rivals far beyond India.