Playtime's over: Toy and model railway maker Hornby forced to call meeting as shareholders seek to oust chairman Roger Canham

 
William Turvill
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Roger Canham has been on the board of Hornby since 2012 (Source: Hornby)

The chairman of toymaker Hornby, Roger Canham, is coming under pressure from shareholders, with the company forced to call a general meeting to determine his future.

The company, which specialises in model railways, received a letter from Ian Alexander Anton, on behalf of himself and New Pistoia, Hornby’s second largest shareholder with a 20 per cent stake, demanding the meeting last Friday.

Hornby’s biggest shareholder, with a 34 per cent stake, is Phoenix Asset Management, a company which is also chaired by Canham.

Read more: Back on track? Hornby shares surge as it ticks off first turnaround stage

In a statement, New Pistoia described Hornby’s five years under Canham as “disastrous”, saying the firm had lost £31m. The firm said Hornby’s current strategy is “ineffective, will continue to destroy value and is not aligned with creating wealth for all shareholders”. It also said that the Phoenix’s majority shareholding was not “in accordance with principles of good corporate governance”.

At the meeting, shareholders will consider the proposal to remove Canham from his position and to appoint Anton as director of the company with immediate effect.

Hornby said it would call the general meeting within 21 days of the requisition, which was received last Friday, 7 April, and the meeting will be held no more than 28 days after the meeting announcement.

Canham joined the board of Hornby in November 2012 and became chairman in February 2013.

Anton said in a statement: “The last five years under Mr Canham have been disastrous for Hornby’s shareholders. I believe it is time for new leadership as, in my experience, positive change nearly always requires fresh perspective.

“I am confident that Hornby's fortunes can be turned around and value can be created for shareholders if changes are made.

“Now is the time to act otherwise shareholders face further losses. I ask shareholders to vote in favour of the proposed board change.”

Read more: Hornby shares rise as firm says sales are on track

Last Friday, Hornby announced the completion of the first phase of its turnaround plan as it restructured its UK and European operations.

“It has been a challenging time for all of Hornby’s employees and I would like to thank them for their dedication, commitment and hard work over the past year,” chief executive Steve Cooke said.

“Improving our customer focus has been a key part of the plan and I am particularly pleased that we have now begun to restore our leading position with our core hobby retail customers.”

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