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Wednesday, 11 September, 2002, 10:41 GMT 11:41 UK
Hamleys buys rival teddy bear store
Child and some teddy bears for sale
Bears are a big part of the Hamleys business
The toy shop group Hamleys is buying four stores from a bankrupt rival.

The shops belong to The English Teddy Bear Company, which went into liquidation after being hit by financial difficulties.

Two of the sites are in prime London locations - Regent Street and Piccadilly. The others are in popular tourist centres Bath and Cambridge.

Hamleys has paid 710,000 ($1.1m) for the four shops.

Bear necessity

The toy retailer believes it has cherry-picked the best of The English Teddy Bear Company chain.

Hamleys confirmed that the stores it had bought had made a profit during recent years.

The chairman Simon Burke said the acquisition was an "excellent addition" to the firm's Bear Factory chain.

Teddy Bears are a lucrative part of the toy group's business.

Last May, Hamleys announced that the Bear Factory chain had made a profit of 2.9m during the previous year - over half the groups total operating profit.

Tourists stay away

To fund the acquisition and refurbishment of the newly acquired stores, the company is offering 2.1m shares at 165.5 pence.

After the acquisition was announced Hamleys shares moved a little lower from 174p to 173.5p

The English Teddy Bear Company was founded in 1991 and at one time owned a chain of 10 stores selling bears and themed clothing.

American tourists made up a high proportion of the firms customers.

The company had been hit by a decline in tourism from the US.

Last year the firm saw sales plummet by 50% at its flagship Central London store in the wake of September 11.

See also:

27 May 02 | Business
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06 Jun 01 | Business
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