French firm to buy Hamleys for £60m?

HamleysBritain's most famous toy shop Hamleys could be sold to a French firm for around £60 million, it has been reported.

Groupe Ludendo, which runs toy stores across France as well as in Belgium, Switzerland and Spain, is in talks to buy Hamleys, the Sunday Times said, in a deal that could be agreed by the end of the month.

The toy shop chain, which has eight outlets in the UK and Ireland, opened its flagship store on Regent Street, in London, in 1881. The company had sales of £43 million in the year to March 2011.

Hamleys is a traditional British brand but is mainly owned by nationalised Icelandic bank Landsbanki, which took over Baugur's stake when the investment group collapsed in the recession.

It has already auctioned businesses such as Iceland, the frozen food seller, but it has reportedly not invited any more offers for Hamleys since receiving an approach from Ludendo.

Bracken, a private equity group run by financier David Rowland, who is one of Britain's richest men and a Tory party donor, owns a minority stake.

Hamleys has two stores in London, and others at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports, Glasgow and a designer outlet in York.
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