Hornby production flying back to UK

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MODEL maker Hornby says its latest range will be made in the UK after Chinese supply problems decimated its profits last year.

Chairman Roger Canham said the firm had taken a fresh look at its business model following last year’s problems and decided to manufacture its new Airfix Quickbuild products in Sussex.

The group has also brought some paint production back to Britain and is working to switch some manufacturing from China to India. Canham said: “Our aim is to use this time of transition as a major opportunity for the business to build a robust platform for future growth.”

He said sourcing products from China was being made less viable by the falling availability of labour and increasing costs. The firm just managed to break even at an operational level last year after an ill-judged foray into Olympic memorabilia last year

compounded its Chinese supply problems. The group reported an underlying profit before tax of £150,000 in the 12 months to March, down from £4.5 million a year earlier. On a reported basis, it slumped to a loss of £3.4m, as sales slid from £64.4m to £57.4m.

But despite the still tough consumer backdrop, Canham said the outlook for the model railway maker was bright. With customers increasingly buying online, the firm hopes to use digital media to engage with its fans and cement its toys’ reputation for painstaking authenticity.