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It's game over for Hamleys at Jenners

posted 21 Jan 2009, 03:14 by myEdinburgh Admin   [ updated 21 Jan 2009, 03:16 ]
Packed with top-of-the-range Barbies, Lego and train sets of all shapes and sizes, the internationally famous store opened amid a blaze of publicity on Princes Street as a toy paradise for shoppers of all ages.

But, just 14 months later, it has emerged that Hamleys is to pull out of Edinburgh's iconic Jenners store in April, which could leave a big hole in the city centre toy market.

Workers learned of the closure late last week and are now in talks with the London-based firm as to what will happen to their jobs.

Bosses at Hamleys insist the company's departure from Edinburgh – and indeed Scotland – has nothing to do with financial difficulties, rather a company decision to focus more on creating stand-alone stores.

Chief financial officer Alasdair Dunn said: "If such an opportunity came up in Edinburgh, we would love to look into that. But we do not have that at the moment."

Hamleys opened in Jenners in September 2007 as one of five concession stores within the House of Fraser group. All will now close their doors.

It was intended that if the "trial" of the toy shops proved successful for both parties, Hamleys may have been introduced in more stores across the UK.

A spokeswoman for House of Fraser said: "Hamleys are keen to concentrate their efforts on an expansion plan for large stand-alone stores, including in Edinburgh, rather than concessions, so the venture is no longer commercially viable. We are currently in talks with other toy retailers about potentially filling the space."

Retail experts told the Evening News it was of "fantastic importance" for another toy retailer to be found for Jenners, stressing the financial importance of the market.

Graham Bell, of the Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce, said: "It is important to realise that the toy market appeals financially rather more to the older generation than to anybody else. There are lots of grandparents buying for both their grandchildren and themselves – do not underestimate the importance of nostalgia when it comes to toys.

"However, in the present climate, Jenners may do well to resource toys themselves. Why have a middle man?"

Hamleys opened in London in 1760, founded by William Hamley. Its Regent Street store is one of the most iconic of its kind in the world.

Hamleys staff have not been made redundant, and they may be able to relocate to Jenners or House of Fraser.

Source: Edinburgh Evening News