A big increase in Scalextric sales helped the UK business to increase sales by more than a third in the first half of this year, to £17.3m, while profits jumped 44% to £2.6m. Which just goes to show that if you want to be a great British manufacturing sucess story, don't try and build it all yourself - follow Hornby's example and outsource it to China.
The Hornby brand is best known for its model trains, which tend to be popular with men of a certain age (who usually lead secret lives in their cellars). But these days it has a lot more strings to its bow. In the US its Transformers products have gone down a storm since it hammered out a distribution deal with Toys R’Us, while its recent acquisitions in Europe (particularly Spain and Italy) are also doing a roaring trade.
Hornby chief executive Frank Martin modestly gave a large slice of the credit for its bumper results to Formula One sensation Lewis Hamilton, who he says has ‘literally driven’ a resurgence of interest in motor sport (we’re pretty sure that this is actually a metaphor, but the point still holds).
Hornby sells a McLaren Scalextric set (sorry, that should read: a 'Vodafone McLaren Mercedes Team F1 Scalextric set') and expects it to be a big seller this Christmas, as parents are emotionally blackmailed into buying it for their little Lewis fanatics.
Indeed, as you’d expect the festive period tends to account for almost half of Hornby’s annual toy sales, and Martin is optimistic that this year will be no different – despite the current economic woes. ‘History tells us that toys at Christmas are the very last things to be sacrificed,’ he knowingly told the Telegraph today.
And he’s got a point – after all, you try telling kids that Christmas is cancelled because of a global credit squeeze…