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Hamleys ‘Optimistic’ for Christmas After 4-Month Toy Sales Rise

July 28 (Bloomberg) -- Hamleys Plc, the U.K. toy retailer whose London store is a tourist attraction, said it’s “optimistic” about Christmas after sales in the first four months of its fiscal year rose.

Revenue from stores open at least a year in the U.K. and Ireland rose 15 percent, while comparable sales at franchises outside those two countries rose 28 percent during the 17 weeks through July 23, the privately held retailer said in a statement today. That compares to growth of 1 percent in the year ended March 26 for the entire business.

Sales have picked up in the U.K. as shoppers spend more each shopping trip, such as the 100-pound ($163) Rock on Elmo toy at its Regent Street store, Chief Executive Officer Gudjon Reynisson said in an interview. Landsbanki Islands Hf., an Icelandic bank that’s the retailer’s biggest shareholder, rejected a 60 million-pound bid from Global Banking Corp. for Hamleys, Sky News said in February.

“We are allowing ourselves to be a little bit optimistic for Christmas this year,” Reynisson said. On a possible sale, the CEO said “nothing has been decided and our shareholders are very supportive of us and happy with our progress.”

The 250-year-old toy store chain plans four new franchised outlets this year in Riyadh, Kuwait, Bangalore and Delhi. The retailer’s owned outlets in Dublin, Glasgow and several British airports have performed well in a “tough” market, the CEO also said.

Online Toy Sales

U.K. retail sales fell 0.6 percent on a same-store basis in June, according to the British Retail Consortium, following a 2.1 percent decline in May.

The international business, which now makes up 23 percent of total sales and includes 8 stores, is run with franchise partners. Reynisson said he is looking at opening outlets in south-east Asia, Russia and Turkey and has a partner lined up in Vietnam.

Hamleys is also considering extending its online delivery beyond 20 countries in Europe, he said.

Landsbanki Islands, the failed Icelandic bank, owns 64 percent of the business, a company owned by investor David Rowland’s family has 34 percent, and management owns the remaining 2 percent.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah Shannon in London at sshannon4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Celeste Perri at cperri@bloomberg.net

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