Hornby has marked the return of office staff to its historic Margate site with the opening of its new showrooms.
Hornby moved distribution to Hersden in 2014 and office functions to Discovery Park in 2015, ending more than 60 years of work in Margate.
But now the Scalextric and model train giant has returned to the Ramsgate Road site and unveiled the expansive trade showrooms and a range of new products.
The showrooms mean buyers, including giants such as Warner Bros, Coca Cola and Harrods, are able to view the new lines- something that was not possible while the company was in Sandwich.
New lines which went on show yesterday (January 7) include Loony Tunes, Justice League and Wacky Races mini Scalextric packs, Harry Potter and Hogwarts trains and scenery, Paddington Bear train sets, D-Day tanks marking the 75th anniversary of the Normandy wartime operation and a range of Humbrol Paint a Pet sets.
Old classics have also been revived with James Bond products, which Hornby has been licensed to carry since the first film, Dr No, in 1963, and a range of goods from the 1950s-70s with the date of their original issue on the box.
Hornby is also hoping to attract a new generation with Scalextric tracks that are operated by mobile phone and iPads using a ‘spark plug.’
Tim Mulhall, Hornby’s chief operating officer who joined the team with returning development director Simon Kohler in 2017, said: “We could not present our products in Sandwich because there was no showroom space. We left Margate five years ago but this space (offices) was still vacant so we approached the owners and asked to lease it back.
“Over four months we have carried out some repairs, cleaned up, painted and then brought in the products team who have made sure everything is beautifully presented. We can now hold our traditional previews with leading retailers.
“It’s important because if you can’t show people what you make there is no way of getting it into the market. It is a good way to show products off to licencing partners such as Warner, Coca Cola, Hamleys.
“Margate is the heart of Hornby’s and has been for more than 60 years. Being back means all our staff can access that heritage and see all the products.”
A new deal has been signed with Coca Cola and the firm has had a six-figure American order for the micro-Scalextric range. They have also teamed up with Warlord Games to offer table top gaming.
The Beatles, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Thunderbirds, Pocher large scale motorbikes and Corgi cars are also on offer.
The office staff move to Margate will take up to six months to complete. There are also plans to overhaul the Visitor Centre which will, from March, showcase a full Harry Potter and Hogwarts track and a recreated factory floor so people can see how the production lines used to look in the old factory area which is now occupied by Locomotive Storage.
An official opening with North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale takes place next month. The showrooms are not open to the general public.
Photos by John Horton