GCC-based toy retailer The Toy Store plans to launch in the UK as it aims to take on Hamleys with an Oxford Street flagship.
The Toy Store, which is owned by Gulf Greetings, could make its debut in London before Christmas ahead of an ambitious roll-out plan with a target of 15 stores in the UK and franchises in a number of key international markets.
Gulf Greetings has appointed David Justice, partner at London-based property agency MMX, to find suitable London sites.
Gulf Greetings group commercial director Mark Handley confirmed that Gulf Greetings is already in talks with Bluewater owner Lend Lease, Westfield about a potential store at Westfield London, and a third landlord with an Oxford Street site.
Handley said that opening stores in “all three locations” might be an option.
Handley told Retail Week: “Oxford Street is the key location for us but it could take 12 to 18 months. Hamleys has had it too easy for too long; it’s had no competition. I think we’ll take market share very quickly.
“Our model is very much about entertainment and the theatre side. It’s going back to the days when Hamleys was a magical experience; it’s just not there any more”.
Once The Toy Store has established a London base it would look to open more stores in the UK in “key locations” including the Trafford Centre and Meadowhall, with a target of 15 stores nationally.
Gulf Greetings is also looking at international expansion via franchise partners. It is has appointed an agent to handle its Asia operations, and is in talks with a number of potential franchise partners in Russia and the CIS region, Turkey and India.
It is understood that The Toy Store has requirements of around 20,000 sq ft, although it is not known whether it would favour stores with a mezzanine level.