Hamleys has appointed Gunnar Sigurdsson, director of failed Icelandic retail investor and former shareholder Baugur, as chairman.

Sigurdsson has been hired after a shake-up of the board that resulted in the departure of two directors, as well as around 20 head office staff (Retail Week, May 29).

Hamleys chief executive Gudjon Reynisson declined to comment on why Sigurdsson had been appointed, but it is well known that the two are friends. Reynisson used to head Baugur-backed Icelandic convenience chain 10-11 before he took the helm at Hamleys last year.

Baugur owned a majority stake in Hamleys until it collapsed into administration in February. Its shares are now controlled by nationalised Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

The rest of the Hamleys board are chief financial officer Alasdair Dunn, Landsbanki director of risk and portfolio Sally Ingleson and Pétur Halldórsson, a former director of investment firm Fons, which owned a 35 per cent stake in the retailer and collapsed earlier this year.

It is thought that nationalised Icelandic bank Kaupthing now controls Fons’ shares.

Reynisson said: “Our new board is up and running. We’re on a good roll, everything is on track and people shouldn’t worry about Hamleys.”

Paul Currie, former chief executive and second in command at Hamleys, left in May as part of the restructure. He will not be replaced and Reynisson has taken on his responsibilities. Director of buying and merchandising Diane Lee left at around the same time.

Sigurdsson remains a director at retailers formerly backed by Baugur including Iceland, House of Fraser, Whistles and Aurum.

Meanwhile, Hamleys has slowed its international and domestic expansion plans owing to the recession but will open stores in Glasgow, Mumbai and Moscow this year.

Reynisson said: “Speed is not the main focus, it’s getting it right that’s important.”