Hamleys names David Smith CEO

Former head of Debenhams’ international business appointed to oversee the UK toy retailer

Written by Rhys Thomas

Posted 30.01.2020 | Retail

Hamleys names David Smith CEO thumbnail

The former Managing Director of Debenhams’ international business has been appointed the new chief executive of Hamleys.

David Smith, who also sits on the RSPCA board of trustees, has taken the reins at the Regent Street toy shop, which was last year bought by Reliance Industries, one of India’s biggest companies.

The Indian conglomerate, at the time the world’s biggest Hamleys franchisee, acquired the toy retailer from its former Chinese owner C.banner last year in a deal worth nearly £70m. Now, it says it “will do whatever it takes” to return the ailing store to the upper echelons of toy retail.

Reliance CEO Darshan Mehta said in an interview that the plan was to make Hamleys the “toy retailing reference point in the world” within the next two years.  

New boss David will have his work cut out to achieve that goal. The famous toy outlet has, as with other bricks and mortar household names, struggled against online competition, despite its reputation for top-tier in-store theatre.


He brings additional retail experience from his time at The Body Shop, where he was the Managing Director of the health and beauty store’s APAC business.

Last November, Hamleys downsized its Glasgow site, moving to smaller premises due to “very limited demand”.

An official announcement of David’s appointment is expected later this week, but the new toy shop boss has confirmed the move on his Linkedin.

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