The Chinese owner of House of Fraser is rumoured to be planning another buying spree in the UK with the country’s most famous toy shop Hamleys next on its shopping list.
Yuan Yafei, the chairman of Nanjing-based conglomerate Sanpower, is understood to be in talks to buy the famous chain from its French owner, Groupe Ludendo, according to the Sunday Times.
The move would come less than a year after Sanpower bought House of Fraser. The department store chain is now poised to expand in China, with the launch of a trio of stores starting next year.
Hamleys was established by Cornishman William Hamley in 1760 in High Holborn and was originally known as Noah’s Ark.
It moved to its Regent Street flagship store in 1881, becoming one of the most popular tourist attractions in the capital’s West End.
Ludendo, the French family-owned toy group, has owned Hamleys for less than three years, having bought the retailer from the failed Icelandic bank Landsbanki for £60m in 2012.
Under chief executive Gudjon Reynisson it has expanded its presence overseas with 10 stores in the UK and more than 43 overseas. Sales rose 15 per cent to £62m last year, with pre-tax profits up by a quarter to £4.5m.