The business on...Gudjon Reynisson, Chief executive, Hamleys
Saturday 29 January 2011
Isn't he the toy man?
Yes, absolutely. As chief executive of Hamleys since May 2008, he is partial to showing off the iconic London shop's latest toys to the press.
Another photograph opportunity to try to flog his latest Buzz Lightyear toy then?
Not exactly. He is in the news because it emerged yesterday that Hamleys, which has been on Regent Street for more than 250 years, is to be put up for sale.
A retailer looking to make a killing from a private equity sale?
No, he is not the one driving the process. You see Hamleys is 65 per cent owned by Landsbanki and those behind the failed Icelandic bank are now willing to consider approaches in order to recoup some of its initial investment.
It is. Landsbanki collapsed in 2008 and this led to one of Hamleys'former backers Baugur falling into administration in early 2009. Landsbanski also owns a sizeable stake in the frozen food specialist Iceland, which it plans to sell for a reported £1.5bn. Iceland is expected to be sold this year.
Mr Reynisson knows a thing or two about Icelandic banks then?
You could say that. He took the helm at Hamleys just months before the Icelandic banking system almost folded and the toy shop was the subject of lots of negative speculation about its future and losses widened during the credit crisis.
It's been a rough ride then?
Not exactly. Hamleys edged back to profit last year and it is likely to attract interest from private equity firms, which could see opportunities to expand its overseas presence beyond existing shops in territories from India to the Middle East.
He knows how to sell toys and put a smile on kids' faces then?
Yes. He is also a former PE teacher, although after four years of chasing footballs he started climbing the corporate ladder. That said, he still enjoys a game of five-a-side football.
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