Reliance Retail to bring in ToysRUs

THE countrys largest private corporation is out to win over the little ones,it seems.Within months of opening the countrys first Hamleys toy store,Mukesh Ambanis Reliance Retail is set to bring in worlds leading toy retailer ToysRUs to India.
The two companies are close to signing a joint-venture agreement to open ToysRUs stores in India,a senior official close to the development said.
Reliance is still working on the nitty-gritty of the joint venture and is expected to close it in the next few months, said the official on condition of anonymity.
A Reliance Retail spokesperson refused to comment: As a policy,we do not comment on speculation.
The New Jersey-headquartered ToysRUs runs more than 1,500 toy supermarkets across 34 countries and has annual revenues in excess of $13 billion.It has the worlds largest toy store at New York Citys Times Square.It also owns brands such as BabiesRUs,FAO Schwarz and KB Toys.
Reliance Retail had in April opened the first outlet of Hamleys,the iconic 250-year-old British toy retailer,in Mumbai.
Analysts say the tieup with ToysRUs will not impact Reliance Retails plans for Hamleys as the US brand is positioned lower than the British toymaker.
ToysRUs is a much more scalable model,while Hamleys is more of an experience-based retailing form, said Harminder Sahni,managing director of Wazir Advisors.These formats would complement each other and help Reliance straddle different price points, he added.
Interestingly,Reliance was in talks with Toys R Us even three years back,but later decided to partner Hamleys to enter toy retailing.
But now the company is clearly toying with the idea of introducing more international brands to the 6,000-crore Indian toy market,where unorganised players hold more than 60% share.
They earlier wanted to open mid-priced toy retail stores on their own,but now they seem to have found a strategic partner, said the official who revealed the development to ET.
Other global toymakers such as Simba Toys and Ty Inc too have ambitious growth plans for India as a booming economy and strong consumer sentiment push demand for toys,childrens apparel and everything else.
Reliance Retail is expected to bring a number of international brands across consumer product segment into the country as it looks to take full advantage of the boom in consumer demand.The company,which had paused its expansion plans during consumer slowdown two years back,is looking to scale up once again.
At Reliance Industries 36th annual general meeting in June,company chairman Mukesh Ambani had indicated that in the next five years,the group could grow its retail business ten-fold,becoming a significant value creator for Reliance in the coming years.
Reliance Retail had revenues in excess of 4,500 crore for the financial year ended March 31,2010.It operates nearly 1,150 stores in 86 cities across 14 states.
It already has joint ventures with UKs apparel retailer Marks & Spencer,Dutch optical firm Pearle Europe,US stationery chain Office Depot,Italian menswear brand Ermenegildo Zegna Group and US-based Apple Inc,among others.There will be more.