Hamleys’ Chinese owner is considering a sale of the toymaker a week after it posted a 500 per cent decrease in profits.
C.banner, which acquired Hamleys for around £100m in 2015, has started a strategic review after being approached by potential buyers.
However it is unlikely to sell before the toymaker’s vital Christmas period, and the sale is not guaranteed to go ahead.
Corporate finance firm Vermillion Partners has been hired to advise C.banner and hold discussions with potential buyers, Sky News reported.
The Chinese fashion conglomerate saw Hamleys as its first step towards an international branding strategy, timing the acquisition to coincide with Chinese president Xi Jinping’s visit to the UK.
C.banner agreed to buy a majority stake in House of Fraser in May this year, but later cancelled the deal and announced a profit warning.
Founded as Noah’s Ark by William Hamley in 1760, Hamleys ran into trouble during the Great Depression, closing stores and stopping its horse-powered home deliveries.
A potential sale would be the fourth time Hamleys has changed hands since it was taken private by an Icelandic investor in 2003.
Despite closing stores in the past year it now has 129 locations around the world, mostly franchises.
It replaced its head of finance last week after poor 2017 results saw the company’s £1.7m 2016 profit fall to a £9.2m loss.