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Hamleys, Regents Street. Shop Signs. Central London. 5/2/2016

Hamleys makes two-year plan for iconic London store refurb

London’s iconic toy shop, Hamleys, is to undergo a revamp that, according to CEO Darshan Mehta, will make the store the “toy retailing reference point in the world.”

In an interview with The Guardian, Mehta made clear the company’s plans to implement a two-year revamp of the Regent Street location in a move to reinvigorate its in-store theatre, building on its reputation for destination shopping to enhance the experience of its some five million customers a year.

In implementing the revamp, Mehta has stated that it will not be a case of transforming Hamleys into another London department store.

“We’re not going to put Swarovski chandeliers in, which can cost a lot of money, because that’s not required,” said Mehta. “You have to be careful not to create something that is intimidating because one of the Hamleys’ secret ingredients has been that it welcomes all the sundry, from the super-rich – someone recently bought a £5,000 reindeer – to someone buying a £5 soft toy.”

Going forward, Hamleys will focus on franchises and the ever-strengthening convergence between toys and film, such as Harry Potter, Frozen, and Star Wars, while the shop will ‘provide a stage for events designed to draw people in.’

“The store should magically (from a child’s eyes) have a new look every three months… so it is more a design challenge than a money challenge. It is not as if, if I put the most expensive stone on the floor, which Harrods would want to do, it would make a difference to a child.”

While 2019 has been an interesting year for toy retail, Mehta has said that Hamleys Christmas sales are now up on 2018, and does not believe that bricks and mortar retailing is doomed.

“If your proposition is price as the only lever then you will lose the game,” he said. “We are not selling the cheapest toy from a box.

“As a brick and mortar retailer, I have to stand up to the onslaught [of online shopping] People will not remain closeted in their homes. They go out for experiences, a visit to a Hamleys store is an experience.”

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