Hornby Back in Profit as Ewbank’s Steams Ahead With Model Train Sale

It seems that traditional hobbies and pastimes are back in favour, as model train maker Hornby has steamed back into profit, and auctioneer Ewbanks has exceeded estimates with a sale of rail collectables.

Toymaker Hornby announced a 33 percent jump in sales in the six months to September, saying that coronavirus lockdown had apparently persuaded many families to focus on traditional hobbies. The firm which also owns the Scalextric car racing, Corgi diecast model and Airfix construction kit brandss, said it had benefited from consumers staying at home and shopping online.


Online sales at the 119-year-old company 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, slumping to a £10m annual loss in 2016-17 while facing difficulties in staying relevant in a world of online games and blockbuster movie franchises.

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Hornby’s 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”. The outlook for the rest of the year and the key Christmas trading season would be difficult to predict, he added.

tri-ang car
Tri-ang Magic Sports Car from Ewbank’s models auction

Meanwhile auctioneers Ewbank’s reported strong results from its auction of model trains reported here. The collection expected to make £10,000 sold for over £33,000 at Ewbank’s on October 28th.

Individual lots soared over estimate, with some going for more than twice expectations.

“It was a very good collection and largely in untouched condition, so very attractive to serious collectors, but the level of interest went way beyond even that,” said Ewbank’s specialist Andy Delve.

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“Only three days before the sale I read a national newspaper article about how orders had risen significantly at Hornby, Peco and other toy suppliers during lockdown as people reassessed how they used their time and headed back to train sets and model cars. Our auction results reflect that heightened interest.”

One lot, a collection of 40 boxed railway coaches by Bachmann expected to fetch as little as £50 sold for £380, while a die-cast boxed set of the Ferrari Racing Team cars doubled estimate at £500, and a Tri-Ang mechanical Magic Sports Car pitched at £150-250 made £550.

Small collections of boxed Dinky cars and other collectable trains also went consistently above hopes.

“I knew this auction would be a golden opportunity for collectors to fill gaps in their own collections, especially with items that may no longer be in production, but the renewed interest from the wider public has also played its part,” said Andy Delve.


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