Lockdown sales boom puts model railway-maker Hornby back on track

Toymaker Hornby, owner of the model railway brand, posted a 33% jump in sales in the six months to September, as coronavirus lockdowns made many families focus on their hobbies.

The firm, which also makes Scalextric car racing sets and Corgi cars, said it had benefitted from consumers staying at home and shopping online, with more than one-third of its sales coming from outside the UK.

Online sales at the 119-year-old firm rose during lockdown, overtaking last year’s total in just six months. This helped Hornby return to profitability, as it made a profit of £200,000 in the six months to September, compared with a loss of £2.5m during the same period in 2019.

The toymaker has suffered several years of losses, even slumping to a £10m annual loss in 2016-17.

Its heritage brands, which include Airfix model plane kits, have struggled to remain relevant amid online games and toys linked to blockbuster films.

Hornby chief executive, Lyndon Davies, celebrated the company’s return to profitability, ascribing it to “growing sales and margins built on the back of the introduction of some fantastic new products, new technology and the changing environment”.

However, Hornby said the outlook for the rest of the year and the key Christmas trading season was difficult to predict. Nonetheless, the company is the latest toy firm to flag a boost from coronavirus restrictions with Hasbro, the maker of Monopoly, this week reporting a jump in gaming sales in the third quarter of the year.

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