Belfast Telegraph

Hornby chairman Roger Canham faces pressure to quit

The chairman of troubled toymaker Hornby is coming under pressure to step down from an investor which has accused him of helping to destroy the firm's value.

New Pistoia, Hornby's second biggest shareholder with a 20% holding, is calling for Roger Canham to be replaced by Alexander Anton.

Mr Anton currently serves as non-executive director of Victoria Carpets, the 120-year-old Kidderminster firm that made the red carpet for the 2011 royal wedding.

A statement from New Pistoia and Mr Anton read: "After five years under the current chairman, during which the company has lost £31 million, and shareholders have lost enormous value, it is time for a change.

"Mr Anton and New Pistoia believe that the current strategy is ineffective, will continue to destroy value and is not aligned with creating wealth for all shareholders. This strong conviction has come after considerable research into the company's current situation and management practices."

A string of profit warnings has resulted in Hornby's shares plummeting over the past year as the firm has struggled with falling sales.

The Scalextric-to-Airfix firm, best known for its model railways, has embarked on a painful turnaround which has seen it reduce product ranges and cut back on investment as part of plans to shore up the balance sheet.

Last week Hornby said the first stage of its turnaround plan has been completed, with early signs of a recovery beginning to be seen.

But Mr Anton told the Press Association: "Hornby is old-fashioned, and that's part of the problem, but there is evidence of a shift from screens to physical toys, such as Scalextric.

"Some of those toys have great potential if the company gets the product right, and it hasn't."

New Pistoia and Mr Anton, who is also a shareholder in Hornby, have demanded that a general meeting be convened to raise and discuss the proposal to axe Mr Canham.

The pair also hit out at the control currently exerted over the company by Hornby's largest shareholder, Phoenix Asset Management, which holds 34% in Hornby.

Mr Canham is chairman of Phoenix, and the duo claim that this is "not in accordance with principles of good corporate governance and therefore is not in best interests of the wider shareholder base".