Hornby Troubles

Hornby is without doubt a vital brand for model railways, indeed the name is synonymous with the hobby to the extent that it can be described as a generic trademark.  The company produces more than just 00 scale model trains however, with familiar products from the likes of Scalextric, Corgi, Airfix and Humbrol all coming under the Hornby brand.  The Margate based firm also owns a number of International brands – Rivarossi, Jouef, Arnold and Electrotren.

From the perspective of a UK 00 scale model enthusiast, Hornby have just come out of a particularly dark period.  Hornby had severe problems with their supplier in China, which was timed with them adopting a “design clever” methodology to reduce manufacturing costs.  They became fairly unpopular as a result of few models of a lower quality.  A phrase of “Hornby bashing” became all too familiar, with the few new products hitting the shelves often being relatively lacklustre.  This year has been a revelation however, with a constant stream of new models and a reassuring marketing approach to keep us all entertained.  The latest product is the Hornby Ex-GWR King class model, which judging by the video below is a particularly good product!

Despite the return to form in the UK, Hornby is not out of the woods yet and has recently issued a profit warning.  The firm are expecting a £2 million loss this year.  This is due to problems with their European brands, as per the statement below.

The impact of the European restructuring on the group’s financial performance will mean that the revenue and profit for the current financial year will be lower than market expectations, but will recover next year.

As a result, it is expected that there will now be an underlying group loss before tax for the full financial year of £2m. The loss could be lower than this depending on how long it will take the new teams in the international businesses to recover their performance levels.

The success or otherwise of Hornby has repercussions on model railways as a hobby and seeing headlines of the firm haemorrhaging profits is worrying to say the least.  The good news is that the loses are linked to re-structuring the firm to make it more efficient in the near future and lets hope that this is the case.

Thanks for reading.

One thought on “Hornby Troubles

  1. Thanks for this. I would have added the Drummond 700 to their exceptional recent releases.
    Personally I would not be too optimistic about the European market. There is still a lot of economic pain and ineptitude out there in the EU and the real solution to the Euro has yet to be accepted.
    If I were managing the Hornby Group I would be looking for buyers for Rivarossi, Juoef, Arnold etc. Not a fire sale but a discreet rumour that they could be available at the right price.


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