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Tue 2 Aug 2011 09:32 AM

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Hamleys eyes trio of toy store openings across Gulf

Iconic toy store to capitalise on growing sales with rollout of stores in Kuwait, Saudi

Hamleys eyes trio of toy store openings across Gulf
Hamleys London store is widely seen as one of the citys major tourist attractions

Hamleys, the UK toy retailer with stores in Dubai and Jordan,
plans to open three further stores across the Gulf in a bid to tap into
increased demand from Middle East shoppers.

The iconic toy store will open outlets in Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi
Arabia in the next six to 12 months, confirmed its Gulf franchise partner
Retail Arabia Company.

“The opportunity to open in these markets in good locations
allows us to further grow the Hamleys brand in the region,” said Steve McShane,
manager for Hamleys in the Middle East.

The retailer said this week it saw revenue from stores in
the UK and Ireland rise 15 percent in the first four months of the year, while
comparable sales at international franchises rose 28 percent.

Hamleys’ international business – which spans eight stores, comprises
23 percent of the privately-held company’s total sales.

“Our sales compare very favourably with the other international
markets and versus the UK domestic business,” McShane said.

The 250-year-old toy store opened its first overseas outlet
in Jordan in 2008, followed by two store openings in Dubai. Hamleys’ flagship
outlet on Regent Street, which boasts seven floors of toys and games, is widely
considered to be one of London’s major tourist attractions and receives some
five million visitors a year.

In June, the firm’s CEO Gudjon Reynisson told the Financial Times that the rise in like-for-like
sales at its London store was partly due to a rise in custom from Middle East
tourists.

Hamleys is 64 percent owned by Icelandic bank Landsbanki
Islands. The lender in February rejected a £60m bid from Global Banking Corp to
sell its stake in the toy company.

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