The chief executive of Hamleys is to step down, just seven months after being appointed to head up the iconic toy retailer. David Smith, the former Debenhams and the Body Shop executive was named Hamleys CEO in January this year and will be leaving the company at the end of this month.
Reported by Sky News, the reasons for the departure are unclear, but it comes at little more than six months after being placed at the head of the Regent Street-based toy shop. Hamleys was acquired last year by Reliance Industries, the conglomerate headed by Mukesh Ambani, India’s richest man. The company bought Hamleys for around £70 million from C.banner International, the Chinese firm that had owned the toy store for just over three years.
Hamleys has been selling toys for over 260 years, but has faced tough trading conditions in recent months, and since its change in ownership, with its flagship London store forced to temporarily close for several months over the coronavirus lockdown period. A fall in the number of overseas tourists visiting London and the store have hit sales further.
The sale of Hamleys to Reliance Industries marked its fourth change of ownership in 15 years, following a succession of failed attempts by a range of international shareholders to expand the brand globally. Hamleys currently trades from more than 100 stores in different international markets, with most of those operated under franchise.
Founded in 1760, Hamleys is one of the most famous retailing names in the world, having occupied its current site on London’s Regent Street since 1881.