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World’s oldest toy retailer opens for business in East Asia

World’s oldest toy retailer opens for business in East Asia

We’re proud to have played our part in enabling iconic British company Hamleys — the world’s oldest toy retailer — to open its first stores in East Asia this weekend.

A store in Yokohama City, near Tokyo, opened its doors to great fanfare on Friday, with a second opening in similar style on Saturday in Fukuoka, western Japan.

Hamleys has previously expanded its brand to India and southeast Asia, but the new Japanese outlets are its first in East Asia.

Both are huge, vibrant, theme park-style outlets. They’re bustling with live entertainers, merry-go-rounds, games corners and infant play spaces. The Yokohama store is 3,000 sq m and the Fukuoka store 5,000 sq m — with around 6,000 products on sale. 

To enable Hamleys to enter the market, members of our Tokyo office acted as the company’s business development team in Japan, undertaking extensive research and business modelling to select the right partner and develop an effective franchise deal. 

Japanese video games firm Bandai Namco Amusement quickly emerged as the top contender in our partner search process as the firms’ cultures and visions fit so well.

After several trips between the UK and Japan for the partners’ executives to explore Hamleys’ UK legacy and visit potential store sites, we brokered a partnership between the two companies. They’re now working in a multi-million-pound joint venture through which they plan to open a total of 30 stores in Japan over the next five years, providing thousands of jobs in the UK and Japan.

Claus Nielsen, Hamleys’ executive responsible for securing the partnership, said: “We know Japan is a complex market and recognised that, to find the best partner, we needed local expertise. Intralink not only helped us find the ideal retail partner but, through their market insights and cultural understanding, guided us all the way to contract signing. Without Intralink, there would have been no deal.”

Hamleys CEO, Ralph Cunningham (below left), said: “Japan represents an exciting market and is key to Hamleys’ continued international growth strategy. We look forward to bringing smiles to the faces of children and families all over Japan and to delivering the unique Hamleys in-store experience to this fantastic market.”

We’ll smile, too, as we see Hamleys’ first two Japanese stores thrive and future outlets join them in the months and years to come.

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