Hornby runs out of steam as delays hit sales

Last summer, the UK had to grapple with a chronic shortage of drivers with as many as 100,000 lorry driver roles needing to be filled. The war in Ukraine has further compounded the issues for companies, pushing petrol and diesel prices to record highs last month making deliveries more expensive.

Hornby’s suppliers are mainly located in the Far East, leading to delays caused by container shortages last autumn.

Hornby started life in 1901 in Liverpool, when founder Frank Hornby received a patent for his Meccano construction toy. The first clockwork train was produced in 1920.

During lockdowns it experienced demand levels of the kind “we normally see at Christmas” as people with time on their hands looked for ways to fill it.

New customers accelerated its turnaround following a turbulent period for the brand with previous management enduring boardroom bust-ups and rows with investors.

It has been attracting younger fans with simpler models which can easily be slotted together, as well as more discerning hobbyists with its most complex Airfix models, made of hundreds of components.  

In January, Hornby’s chief executive Lyndon Davies, who has been spearheading its turnaround efforts, became executive chairman. It also agreed an extension to a loan of £9m until the end of Dec 2023.

The board is looking for a new boss who is expected to take the business onto the next stage of growth at which point Mr Davies will become non-executive chairman.

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