New CEO for international toy firm

HTI Group, the UK’s largest independently owned designer and manufacturer of children’s toys, has appointed Christopher Spalding as chief executive officer.

Chris SpaldingHe will report to a newly-formed investor board, led by John Hutt, currently CEO and principal investor. Hutt will take up the role of chairman and will retain an active involvement in the strategic direction of the business.

The group, which was originally founded in 1952, works with major retailers and wholesalers in 75 countries around the world, including Carrefour in Europe and Walmart in North America and Canada. The company rankled as the 65th highest-grossing firm in Lancashire according to the most recent Fab 500.

Perhgaps better known as HJalls Toys, its ranges include a mix of own label, in house brands such as Teamsterz, Smart and Cosy Village, as well as licensed brands including Peppa Pig, Tonka, Transformers, Barbie and Hello Kitty.

Christopher Spalding is currently managing director & SVP of Leapfrog International, the US-headquartered educational entertainment group. He has spent the last five years growing its international division as part of the group’s global leadership team. His previous experience includes roles with major blue chip companies including Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Virgin and Associated Newspapers.

John Hutt said: “We’re delighted to confirm Chris’ appointment, which follows a rigorous selection process undertaken by the board. He has achieved considerable success at Leapfrog during his tenure, significantly growing international sales, profits and market share.

“We’re convinced he has the right mix of skills and experience in our core domestic and international markets to make a major impact on the group’s forward performance. His ambition for HTI will be instrumental in helping us achieve the next aggressive phase in our plans and his day-to-day leadership will allow me to focus on strategic opportunities for HTI Group while pursuing other business interests.”

Christopher Spalding said: “HTI Group’s pedigree and potential make this an incredibly exciting time to be joining the business. As the UK’s largest independent player in its sector, the group has an enviable portfolio of brands, licenses and customers, supported by an incredible team and a truly global presence. “I’m looking forward to working with that team as we continue our investment in our intellectual property, licensing programme and strategic customer partnerships around the world.”