Lockdown hobbies help Hornby return to profit

Hornby train

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Model railway maker Hornby thinks it is on the right track to cash in on the revival of hobbies during lockdown after returning to profit.

Hornby, which also sells Scalextric, had sales of £48.5m for the year to 31 March 2021, up 28% on the year before.

Chief executive Lyndon Davies said recent sales figures indicated the momentum would continue.

“Model railways, Scalextric sets running around the attic. Yes, there’s been a lot of engagement from people.”

Mr Davies told the BBC: “When there’s problems in the world, people do turn inwards, they do look for things of comfort and in a hobby, they find comfort.”

Hornby made a net profit of £300,000 for the year to 31 March, an improvement on the £3.4m loss for the previous 12 months.

Shares in the hobby retailer rose more than 4% in early trading.

Shipping issues

Mr Davies said the retailer was more concerned with shipping issues causing supply chain disruption than it was about an end to lockdowns.

Hornby, which imports many of its products from East Asia, was affected by closures at Chinese ports due to coronavirus.

“There are still shipping delays from our supply chain with container shortages. Shipping costs from our factories are three times what they were previously,” the company said.

Getting its model train sets and other hobby goods into the EU had also faced “countless importation difficulties”, the company said, and it stopped exporting to the bloc in late 2020 in anticipation of increased Brexit barriers to trade.

“In recent weeks, shipments have resumed, but there are still delays in certain countries whose procedures are unnecessarily rigid,” Hornby said in its update to the London Stock Exchange.