India’s richest man buys Hamleys toy stores

Mukesh Ambani, chairman and managing director, Reliance Industries. (Supplied)
Updated 10 May 2019

India’s richest man buys Hamleys toy stores

  • Through its Reliance Brands subsidiary, the conglomerate said it signed an agreement to buy, Hamleys, the 250-year-old chain from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings
  • The acquisition by Reliance Industries, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, marks the conglomerate’s first foray in an overseas retail brand

MUMBAI: Hamleys, the world’s oldest toy retailer, is set to pass from Chinese to Indian control after Reliance Industries said it had agreed to buy the British high street icon.
Through its Reliance Brands subsidiary, the conglomerate said it signed an agreement to buy the 250-year-old chain from Hong Kong-listed C Banner International Holdings.
On Friday, C Banner stock was suspended from trading pending an announcement.
Reliance did not disclose the price of the deal, but in 2018, C Banner wrote off $49.8 million in goodwill and brand value related to Hamleys, its annual report showed. The cut reduced the carrying value of the toy retailer by 36 percent to 626 million yuan ($91.85 million).
The Chinese group bought Hamleys in 2015 for $130.2 million from France’s Groupe Ludendo, but its enthusiasm for British acquisitions has since cooled. Last year, it dropped plans to buy 51 percent of House of Fraser, sending the UK department store chain into administration.
The acquisition by Reliance Industries, owned by India’s richest man Mukesh Ambani, marks the conglomerate’s first foray in an overseas retail brand.
Reliance Industries runs the world’s biggest single-location crude oil refinery and has been transforming itself into a consumer-facing behemoth through ventures in retail and telecommunications.
“The worldwide acquisition of the iconic Hamleys brand and business places Reliance into the frontline of global retail,” said Reliance Brands Chief Executive Darshan Mehta.
Founded in 1760, Hamleys resonates with adults and children alike, with its flagship Regent Street store in central London recognized around the world.
The toy seller runs 167 stores across 18 countries, the majority of which are in India, Reliance said. The Indian company, which already holds the master franchise for the brand in India, currently operates 88 stores in 29 cities.
Having established itself as India’s leading mobile telecoms player, Reliance Industries has been firming up plans for a retail onslaught to combine its traditional outlets with an online foray aimed at taking on Amazon.com Inc. and Walmart Inc. in India.
A supermarket operator, Reliance is already the country’s biggest bricks-and-mortar retailer in terms of revenue and number of stores.
The conglomerate’s strategy to diversify beyond refining and petrochemicals has seen its fast-growing telecoms and retail operations driving quarterly profit to record highs at a time when its gross refining margins have taken a hit from oil price volatility and slowing global demand.
The group’s retail business doubled revenue to 356 billion rupees ($5.1 billion) in the three months to Dec. 31 while earnings before interest and tax more than tripled to 15 billion rupees.


Apple warns China virus will cut iPhone production, sales

Updated 18 February 2020

Apple warns China virus will cut iPhone production, sales

  • Apple says demand for iPhones is also down in China because many of Apple’s 42 retail stores there are closed

CUPERTINO, California: Apple Inc. is warning investors that it won’t meet its second-quarter financial guidance because the viral outbreak in China has cut production of iPhones.
The Cupertino, California-based company said Monday that all of its iPhone manufacturing facilities are outside Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, and all have been reopened. But the company said production is ramping up slowly.
“The health and well-being of every person who helps make these products possible is our paramount priority, and we are working in close consultation with our suppliers and public health experts as this ramp continues,” Apple said in a statement.
The death toll from COVID-19, a disease caused by the new coronavirus, was 1,770 as of Monday.
Apple says demand for iPhones is also down in China because many of Apple’s 42 retail stores there are closed or operating with reduced hours. China is Apple’s third largest retail market for iPhones, after the US and Europe.
Outside China, Apple said iPhone demand has been strong and is in line with the company’s expectations.
On Jan. 28, Apple said it expected second quarter revenue between $63 billion and $67 billion. Apple’s second quarter ends March 30.
Apple says the situation is evolving and it will provide more information on its next earnings call in April.