Undeterred by the economic crisis in Russia, toy giant Hamleys chose Moscow to open Europe's biggest toy store on 31 March.
It occupies 7,000m<sup>2 just steps away from the Kremlin and features many thematic areas. It is much larger than the current biggest toy store in Europe in London on Regent Street. If Hamleys proceeds to close its flagship Toys R Us store on Times Square in New York in early 2016, the new Moscow store will become the world's biggest.
"This is a fantastic market for toy retail. This is a growing market in the world of toys. International brands, they want to work with us because Hamleys showcases brands with more respect if you can say than other retailers do. We give them space and we create interaction. So we partner very much with the international brands. And I have a strong feeling that we are going to become quite a big player in the Russian market," Hamleys chief executive Gudjon Reynisson said.
The Russian economy is struggling due to sanctions over Ukraine and weaker oil prices. The rouble lost 40% of its value, but Hamleys' partner in Russia, Ideas4retail, says it feels safe.
"Our task is to offer our customers a wider range (of goods), to constantly work on the store's atmosphere, to work constantly so that coming here for people would be very special, so that being here would improve their mood. And if to use boring economic terms, I think we will work on the store's efficiency and sustainability of its concept," said co-owner of Ideas4retail, Yevgeny Butman.
The Lego World section in the new Hamleys store in Moscow features copies of the Russian capital's iconic buildings including the Kremlin towers and the Bolshoi Theatre.