Margate firm Hornby halts non-UK orders due to Brexit uncertainties

Hornby Photo Jamie Horton

Margate-based Hornby has paused all non-UK orders due to uncertainty surrounding Brexit.

The firm, which up to last year spent 18 months of overhauling management and finances to claw back the loss of a ‘ginormous’ £10 million per year over three years, says it hopes to find a solution to a ‘difficult position.’

A statement from the company says: “Due to the uncertainty surrounding the outcome of Brexit and what it will mean for our International customers, we do not feel comfortable accepting orders until we have clear guidelines on how this will affect our Hornby family and the way we price and ship our products.

“Therefore, as of the 15th December 2020, we will pause taking non-UK orders, until 4th January 2021.

“We hope that you can all understand the difficult position we are in and remain patient with us until we can find a solution. 2020 has proved challenging far beyond what any of us could have ever anticipated and we are immeasurably grateful that you have all continued to show your support for the company.

“We are truly lucky to be surrounded by such a wonderful community and we hope that you all have a peaceful holiday season.

“We will be back to normal trading with fervour in the New Year, with ranges, collections and ideas that will be more than worth the wait!”

It is understood Brexit jams and uncertainty over tariffs and extra taxes for British goods are factors in the decision.

Hornby returned office staff to its historic Margate site and opened new showrooms in January last year.

Hornby had moved distribution to Hersden in 2014 and office functions to Discovery Park in 2015, ending more than 60 years of work in Margate. The Scalextric and model train giant then made the decision in 2018 to return to the Ramsgate Road site with the move completed by the start of 2019.

The fate of the UK remains uncertain as the looming deadline of the European Union (EU) transition end date on December 31 fast approaches.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson continues to seek a trade deal with his European partners but major disagreements remain between the two sides over fishing rights and trade competition rules.

Talks have been extended with the European Commission saying there is a ‘narrow path’ to reach agreement.


  1. A British company selling to only British customers and not to nasty foreigners – Brexiteers must be pleased about this.

    • Actually, as we didn’t spend £350 million per week on the EU in the first place, and that amount would never have been spent on the NHS anyway, if Covid hadn’t intervened, I suspect that Brexit would have done a hell of a lot less for us than the Romans!!

      Mind you, of course, Brexit isn’t “nearly over” now. In fact, true Brexit is only just beginning! We will be living in Brexitland for several years while, slowly but surely, sensible governments draw us back into closer and closer agreements with the EU until our status closely resembles that of a member again.
      Of course, no politician, certainly not the craven Starmer or the devious Johnson, will ever admit that we will be back in the EU after all. They will retain some kind of “sovereignty” fig leaf to protect their modesty while finding ways to align all the trading rules, making contributions to ease our exchange of goods and services, and , let’s say, sending “observers” to sit in the European Parliament.
      Meanwhile ,they will be telling us that we got Brexit and isn’t it wonderful! Pause for lots of Union Jacks, strains of “Rule Britannia” and a film of a Spitfire! Just a pity that Scotland will be independent and a full EU member, and the north of Ireland will be , just as slowly but surely, re-integrating with the South in all but name.
      And if Hornby still exists, it will be importing train sets from China for £5 each, getting them boxed up in Margate by workers barely surviving on minimum wage, and flogging them for hundreds of pounds.

  2. Yes I agree, Hornby has been in Thanet for decades, so why have they decided they don’t want to export, unless it wasn’t financially rewarding! If their customers included countries in the EU, they probably will have to get all sorts of new paperwork, export licenses and the like! Everyone of the 37% of the electorate who voted to leave (NOT 52%!) had no idea what the Terms & Conditions would be, and they still don’t know as they are still being haggled over right now! So, they voted for something they didn’t understand, what could that be I wonder? It couldn’t just be because they don’t like foreigners can it, I mean that would be pretty stupid wouldn’t it?

  3. I think they might find it difficult.Much of their stock comes from China, which is becoming increasingly expensive as Chinese living standards rise.The remainder comes from India, where the gap between its objectives and its resources grows wider.
    China is a country that goes to the moon, but enslaves a large part of the population of one province and has the remainder in thrall to an increasingly authoritarian state.
    India meanwhile launches satellites, but much of its population lives in abject poverty, within what seems a trend of becoming an authoritarian theocratic state.
    Britain of course is…….
    Hornby is not one brand name, but several, many of them are European brands like Lima,Rivarossi and Arnold.
    I suspect that one of those names will be based again in Europe, such as Poland for example and it will handle the ‘export trade’to Europe.
    Hornby is mainly a warehousing and marketing operation facing several markets, and has been for some time.These markets are the toy trade and what might be termed the collectors market for predominately male children over 50, seeking a return to their youth.I am one of the latter.

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