Hamleys to target US shoppers over the Net

HAMLEYS, THE toy retailer which reported a slump into loss last month, is planning to target the American market with a new Internet site re-launched today.

Hamleys is starting a heavy marketing campaign in the New York and Boston areas next week to co-incide with the start of the American holiday season.

It will be promoting the group's new website, which Hamleys hopes will woo back US shoppers who have visited the group's flagship store on London's Regent Street but are unable to buy goods from Hamleys regularly.

The site will be selling toys and gifts associated with London after Hamleys found that its best-selling online toy last year was a die-cast model of a London taxi. This year's range will include London buses and fire engines as well as soft toys based on Beefeaters and London guardsmen. Other ranges will include James Bond figures and toys based on Winnie the Poo characters.

"The web allows us to resume contact with people who might have visited the store as a tourist but can't shop with us regularly," said Simon Burke, Hamleys' new chief executive who joined from the Virgin group in July.

Hamleys is investing a total of pounds 250,000 in the re-launch and hopes to recoup that outlay in Christmas sales this year.