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Hamley's shareholders play tough

INSTITUTIONAL shareholder pressure is understood to be mounting for changes on the board of Hamley's, the under-performing toy retailer. Leading investors are said to be unhappy about declining profits at the group and may push for a new chief executive to replace Chris Ash. His position appears to have been undermined by the return of Stephen Woodbridge as executive deputy chairman, although he is supposedly only working on short-term projects.

Hamley's profits are forecast to fall from last year's pounds 7.5m to pounds 6m this year after a series of operational problems that have compounded the impact of weak consumer spending and falling tourist numbers at its flagship Regent Street store. Hamley's biggest shareholders are M&G, Jupiter and Phillips & Drew.