Hamleys toy store in Dubai

Get ready to be excited as the world's most exclusive toy store comes to Dubai. We talk to the big boss.

What does Hamleys mean for Dubai?
No other toy store in this region combines history, prestige and fun like Hamleys. It is one of the most visited stores in the UK; one of the most visited sites in the UK actually, alongside Harrods and Buckingham Palace. Hamleys has been around for 248 years, and we are opening the first flagship store outside of London’s Regent Street.

What do you mean by ‘flagship’ store?
A flagship store is where you showcase your ‘wow’ concepts. Inside it’s huge, around 32,000 sq ft, and we will carry up to 70,000 toys at any given time.

Why open Hamleys at Dubai Mall?
The prestige; it will be the most exclusive mall in the world. You won’t be able to come to Dubai without going to Dubai Mall, and you won’t be able to come to Dubai Mall without going to Hamleys.

What will shoppers find inside?
It’s an amazing store. There’s a fun spirit, with people playing everywhere; nothing is off-limits for kids and they can play with anything they see – every single toy that’s displayed can be played with out of the box.

Sounds like the staff will be kept busy.
Our colleagues are very important to us – they provide the energy and excitement in the store. To get the right people we’ve invested a lot of time and energy. So far we’ve interviewed 4,000 people to fill 45 positions. Every member of our team has a unique, playful quality about them; they are real characters themselves, with bubbly personalities.

How have you catered for parents?
It’s good for parents because we will be located right next to the food court in Dubai Mall. And Hamleys provides an interactive experience – it’s a joyful treat for anyone to visit us. You go to Hamleys not just to buy, but to participate. Hopefully every two weeks there will be a new themed event going on.

What kind of events are you looking at?
Well, for example, there will be a track in store where kids can bring their remote controlled cars to race; we’ll have qualifying races and finals culminating, and families could win a trip to the Grand Prix. Hamleys sponsors the Williams F1 team, which makes this a possibility.

Will there be an educational aspect?
There’s actually quite an educational element to the store; we’d like to invite the Road and Transport Authority, for example, to explain how the metro system works. Kids will be invited to come in and make arts and crafts, and we will invite local writers to read stories.

Do you have children of your own or are you just a kid at heart?
I don’t have children; I just like playing with the toys. In fact, I have toys all over my office.

What’s next for Hamleys in the UAE?
We’ll be opening two more stores in the UAE, in the Mirdif City Center and in Abu Dhabi.

Hamleys opens at Dubai Mall on October 30. More info at www.thedubaimall.com

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