British toy retailer Hamleys has quietly exited the Czech market

Failing to reach a license agreement with the London-based brand, Prague's former Hamleys stores have been rebranded as The Playground.

Jason Pirodsky

Written by Jason Pirodsky Published on 28.01.2024 16:21:00 (updated on 05.02.2024) Reading time: 2 minutes

British toy retailer Hamleys made headlines when it opened what was promoted as the largest toy store in central Europe in Prague back in 2016. Eight years later, the brand has quietly exited the Czech market as of January 2024, reports local business daily Hospodářské noviny.

The former Hamleys megastore in Prague, located on Na příkopě around the corner from Wenceslas Square in the former ČSOB headquarters building, is still in operation. However, it was completely rebranded as The Playground in signage both outside and within the store shortly after the Christmas holidays.

Hamleys-branded products, including the iconic teddy bear, have slowly disappeared from the store's shelves, social media profiles have been updated to reflect the new brand, and the former web address at hamleys.cz now redirects to theplayground.cz.

Otherwise, the rebranded Prague store appears to be operating as usual. Writing to fans on social media, The Playground assures them that former Hamleys vouchers and cards will continue to work at the newly-branded venue.

According to Hospodářské noviny, the reason for the change is that local operator Inexad, owned by Pavel Čmelík, did not reach a licensing agreement to continue operating under the Hamleys brand. The licensing dispute with the Czech operator comes after Hamleys was sold to Indian retail group Reliance Retail in 2019.

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In addition to the flagship store in central Prague, a Hamleys location had also operated in Terminal 1 at the Czech capital's Václav Havel Airport. That location, too, has quietly been rebranded under The Playground banner as of this month.

Interactive exhibits were a large part of the offerings at Hamleys flagship store under Wenceslas Square, and included a mirror maze, and expansive butterfly house, and a virtual reality experience based on the Prague legend of the golem.

Those exhibits are still operating at The Playground, which also houses a laser tag arena and arcade games zone. Hospodářské noviny writes that the rebranded venue will place a larger emphasis on interactive elements than the former toy-focused Hamleys store.

While the iconic Hamleys brand may be missed in Prague, The Playground promises to continue its legacy by offering an engaging and interactive experience for children and families in the heart of the city. 

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