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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 09:38 GMT 10:38 UK
Upmarket Hamleys raises earnings
Hamleys store exterior
Hamleys: Feedback has been "universally positive"
Are today's youngsters really more spoiled than the children of yesteryear?

Figures from Hamleys certainly suggest this is the case.

The toy retailer in September relaunched its flagship store in Regent Street, London with a view to carrying "exclusive, unique and high-ticket" items, on which it can charge a greater mark-up.

But, rather than scaring customers away, the switch has helped bring a revival in the shop's fortunes.

Feedback from the relaunch has been "universally positive", Hamleys chairman Simon Burke said, in a statement announcing results for the year to the end of March.

"And there is evidence that London customers, in particular, are returning to the store.

"Regent Street is achieving good growth in profits."

Like-for-like sales grew 7.7% in the six months after the relaunch, compared with the same period in 1999.

Makeover

Hamleys is using the success of its strategic switch in Regent Street to support the conversion of its middle market Toystack stores into upmarket Bear Factory outlets.

"Whilst the performance of Toystack in the year was solid, it has been recognised that this business does not fit well with the premium positioning of Hamleys," Mr Burke said.

"Bear Factory is significantly more attractive as a retailing operation, selling an exclusive product with substantially higher margins."

Overall, Hamleys earned pre-tax profits of 3.87m over the year, compared with 27,000 for the 14 months to the end of March 2000.

And Mr Burke said Hamleys was "confident" of "continuing recovery in profitability" in the current trading year.

In the City, Hamleys shares stood 6.5p up at 130p in mid-morning trade.

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