Friday 14 December 2018 3:33 pm

Billionaire Mike Ashley and The Entertainer may bid for iconic toy store Hamleys

Sports Direct owner Mike Ashley and British toy retailer The Entertainer are among the bidders interested in a takeover of Hamleys, according to a report.

The world's biggest toy shop has been owned by Chinese fashion conglomerate C.banner since 2015, but Sky News reported this morning that bids are now being considered for an acquisition of the business.

The Irish toy chain Smyths is also said to be interested in making an offer when bidding formally opens after Christmas.

Hong Kong-listed C.banner paid about £100m for Hamleys three years ago, but now apparently wants just £90m for the Regent Street store – the same amount Sports Direct paid for struggling retailer House of Fraser in August.

In October this year, Hamleys reported a £9.2m loss for 2017, claiming sales had been impacted by “Brexit uncertainty, terrorist attacks, macroeconomic pressures and a general erosion in UK consumer confidence”.

Despite reports that he is interested in buying the toy store, Ashley echoed Hamleys' concerns when he told City analysts yesterday that big retail names faced being “smashed to pieces” by downturns in spending due to Brexit.

He also launched a scathing attack on Debenhams, claiming the retailer has "zero chance" of survival after rejecting a £40m bid from his company, Sports Direct

If a successful bid is made for Hamleys, it will be its fourth takeover in 15 years. Before C.banner, the business was owned by French company Groupe Ludendo, which acquired it from Icelandic shareholders in 2012.

Aside from the London store founded in 1760, there are now 129 Hamleys worldwide, in countries including Germany, India, Russia, Ukraine, and China.

Hamleys and Sports Direct did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Entertainer declined to comment.