Britain’s most famous toy shop Hamleys was today sold to a French firm for an estimated £60 million.
Hamleys is 250 years old and has eight outlets in the UK and Ireland, including its seven-storey flagship store on London’s Regent Street.
The classic British brand was mainly owned by nationalised Icelandic bank Landsbanki, which took over Baugur’s stake when the investment group collapsed in the recession.
Bracken, a private equity group run by financier David Rowland, who is one of Britain’s richest men and a Tory party donor, owned a minority stake.
Its new owner is family-run Groupe Ludendo, which operates 300 toy stores across France, Belgium, Switzerland and Spain.
Ludendo chairman Jean-Michel Grunberg said: “We have the utmost respect for the Hamleys brand and heritage, as well as the unique interactive retail environment of fun, entertainment and theatre that it has created.
“We have every intention of maintaining this unique brand and what it stands for, and building on its successful international development.”
Hamleys has two stores in London, and others at Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted airports, Glasgow and a designer outlet in York.
In total it has 22 stores, with other outlets in Denmark, Jordan, Dubai, India and Cyprus, Russia and Saudi Arabia, and, like Ludendo, it plans to grow significantly in coming years.
Ludendo owns brands such as Franz Carl Weber and said today’s acquisition will help it double its store portfolio over the next four years.