James May has led the calls to rescue Hornby, the maker of model trains, cars and planes, after the company warned that it is struggling to survive.
The company’s origins can be traced back to 1901, when Frank Hornby, the founder, applied for a patent for an invention he described as “improvements in toy or educational devices for children and young people”. He then went on to create Meccano and Hornby’s famous collection of model trains. The company now also owns Airfix, Scalextric and Corgi.
However, Hornby hasn’t had a good run in the last few years due to falling sales, supplier problems and disruption caused by an upgrade of its computer and stock management systems. suffered a torrid period in the last few years due to falling sales, problems with suppliers in China, and disruption from upgrading its computer and stock management systems. These factors mean that Hornby will potentially record a pretax loss of between £5.5m and £6m for its financial year, and there is a risk that the company will breach banking covenants in March. If it does so, there is a risk that Barclays, its bank, could call in the debt, threatening the company with collapse.
Richard Ames, chief executive of Hornby, said the company had a “long and supportive relationship” with Barclays and is in talks about the potential breach. “This has been a real year of change at Hornby,” he added. “Undoubtedly this is a disappointing result, but we have a strong portfolio of brands that we are determined to see flourish.”
In response to the statement, May tweeted: “We must save Hornby. Buy a train set today. Every home should have one. #Forthenation.”