HORNBY PLC

HORNBY PLC

Previous company name
HORNBY GROUP PLC
Name change date
8/19/1996
Company Overview
Hornby PLC, based in Margate, United Kingdom, is a holding company engaged in the development, design, sourcing and distribution of hobby and interactive home entertainment products. The company develops and supplies Hobby and Toy products. Hornby is a household name and is famous as the UK brand leader in the model railway hobby. The company was founded by Frank Hornby, who applied for a patent in 1901 to protect an invention he called ‘Improvements in Toy or Educational Devices for Children and Young People’.
The company distributes its products through a network of specialist and multiple retailers throughout the United Kingdom and overseas. The company markets its products under a number of brands that include Hornby, Scalextric, Electrotren, SuperSlot, Lima, Jouef, Rivarossi and MKD. The company manufactures all of its products in China by way of third-party contract manufacturers but some packing operations remain in the United Kingdom.
Hornby PLC is a holding company with a Spanish branch and has five operating subsidiaries: Hornby Hobbies Limited in the United Kingdom, Scalextric USA, Inc. in the United States, Electrotren S.A in Spain, Hornby Italia s.r.l. in Italy and Hornby France S.A.S. in France. On September 2006, the company acquired Heico Modell, a German company.
Business Summary
The Company is principally engaged in the development, manufacture and distribution of hobby and interactive home entertainment products.
Description and history
The Company is a holding company with a Spanish branch and has 6 operating subsidiaries: Hornby Hobbies Limited in the United Kingdom, Hornby America Inc. in the USA, Hornby Espaсa S.A in Spain, Hornby Italia s.r.l. in Italy, Hornby France S.A.S. in France and Hornby Deutschland GmbH in Germany.

The Company is principally engaged in the development, manufacture and distribution of hobby and interactive home entertainment products.

HISTORY :

The Company was incorporated on 25 February 1981 and its shares are listed on London Stock Exchange on 2 August 1996.

The Company is a household name and is the UK brand leader in the model railway hobby. The Company’s founder was Frank Hornby (1863 – 1936) who applied for a patent in 1901 to protect an invention he called ‘Improvements in Toy or Educational Devices for Children and Young People’.

The Beginning of Company:

Frank Hornby was granted his patent and soon put the invention into production under the name ‘Mechanics Made Easy’. This led to the establishment of Meccano Ltd in 1907. Such was the success of the company, Frank Hornby had to regularly move his factory to new and larger premises. Meccano was to become one of the classic toys of all time.

Meccano production continued during the First World War and Company took the opportunity to introduce toy trains in 1920. Company Trains were powered by a high quality clockwork motor, made of metal pressings held together by Meccano nuts and bolts, and ‘0’ gauge in size.

Hornby Trains were an instant success and the company was quick to introduce more engines and accessories. In 1925 the first Hornby electric train was produced, operating from a mains supply of 100-250 volts. By 1929, Company had evolved a much safer system and electric models worked from a six volt DC source.

Hornby Dublo and Tri-ang Hornby:

In 1938, Hornby Dublo (’00’) was launched. This was approximately half the size of the ‘0’ gauge system except that the locomotives had cast metal bodies, not pressed metal, and the buildings were made of wood. Both clockwork and electric sets were available before the Second World War, although these were limited to Sir Nigel Gresley, an LNER A4 Class Pacific, and an LNER Class N2 tank locomotive in the liveries of the ‘big four’ companies of the time (GWR, LMS, LNER and SR). Production stopped during the Second World War (1939 – 1945) but Hornby Dublo soon reappeared once the war was over, although without a clockwork range. By the late 1950s, it was clear that Hornby Dublo was losing ground to its competitors and changed from a three-rail system to the established two-rail track system in 1959.

Company came under increasing pressure from rival company Tri-ang Railways, who had developed plastic bodied trains and carried out its manufacturing at a purpose-built factory in Margate, Kent. Hornby Dublo and Tri-ang Railways rivalled each other during the early 1950s and following the acquisition in 1964 of Meccano Ltd by Lines Brothers (the parent company of Tri-ang Railways), the companies were merged in 1965 to become Tri-ang Hornby.

Production of Hornby Dublo ceased in 1964 and some of the tooling was purchased by G&R Wrenn Ltd (another division of Lines Bros.) to launch Tri-ang Wrenn in 1967.

The Tri-ang Hornby period is best remembered by many for the change to British Rail blue liveries on diesel locomotives, the introduction of pre-Nationalisation liveries for steam locomotives and the launch of Battle Space and Battle Zone. Some of the locomotives produced during this time included the E3000, Hymek, Class 37, M7, Hall Class, Coronation Class, Flying Scotsman and Evening Star.

The Tri-ang Group was disbanded and sold in 1971 and the model railway system which had been known as Tri-ang Hornby was renamed Hornby Railways in January. Even though the name changed, production continued at the Margate factory. The specification of a large part of the range was also upgraded to make it more attractive to adult enthusiasts and improvements were carried out to provide finer scale wheels, wire handrails on locomotives, better paint finish on plastic bodies and high definition printing of logos.

There was a steady flow of new locomotives during the 1970s including the A4, ‘Footballer’, King, Patriot and Duchess Classes. New diesels included the High Speed Train (HST) which became a popular model instantly. At the same time a new range of regional and BR Mk3 coaches were introduced, which would serve the system for many years.

Other products included a 31/2″ gauge steam powered model of Stephenson’s Rocket, Zero 1 (the forerunner to DCC) and a model of the ill-fated tilting Advanced Passenger Train (APT).

In 1980 the company, now known as Hornby Hobbies Ltd, became an independent company and on 29 October 1986 was floated on the Unlisted Securities Market, becoming a public company.

Changes taking place on British Railways and privatisation of the railways at this time brought several new eye catching liveries that were eagerly modelled by Company. The demand for these liveries and higher standards of modelling led to a number of models being retooled. New products also included a Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends range, based on the television series.

The Thomas series was launched in 1985 at the same time as other new models were added to the Hornby range, including BR’s electric Class 90 and 91 locomotives and Mk4 InterCity coaches.

Today, more privatised companies using the railway system have brought a further choice of new and diverse liveries to model. All Company manufacturing was moved to China in 1995 and the first totally new ‘Far East’ model was a Rebuilt Merchant Navy Class locomotive, which was to become a benchmark of quality for future locomotives and rolling stock.

Company launched the first commercially produced ’00’ gauge live steam locomotive in September 2003, paving the way for another product line to the company’s already expanding range, consisting of more than 650 current items.

Now simply called ‘Hornby’, the company justifiably retains the position it has held for more than 50 years as Britain’s leading model railway manufacturer.

Founded by Frank Hornby, who applied for a patent to protect an invention he called ‘Improvements in Toy or Educational Devices for Children and Young People’

Business Line
Holding company engaged in the development, design, sourcing and distribution of hobby and interactive home entertainment products
Subsidiary
H & M (SYSTEMS) LIMITED
Advisor
PRICEWATERHOUSECOOPERS LLP
IPO date
8/2/1996
US SIC Code
3944
Company Address
Westwood Industrial Estate

City province or state postal code
CT9 4JX, MARGATE
Phone: +44 1843 233 500
Fax: +44 1843 233 513
Country address: UNITED KINGDOM
Website url: www.hornby.com