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LONDON (Thomson Financial) - Model train and Scalextric maker Hornby PLC said its UK sales recovered in the second half to help it notch up a 2.4 pct rise in annual operating profit before amortisation to 8.3 mln stg.

Hornby said first half sales were below the previous year, but it was able to recover more than that shortfall in the second six months, which it said demonstrated 'again the robust nature of the hobbyist market.'

Chief executive Frank Martin said in a statement that sales in the UK, the firm's biggest market, grew by 3 pct and total group sales lifted by 6 pct due to the 'continuing increase in momentum' of its international subsidiaries.

'Our international operations are now beginning to show their true potential and we are confident they will continue to deliver encouraging progress in the future,' Martin said.

Hornby said its acquisition of Humbrol and Airfix had added 'new and complementary high margin business' to the group and their integration was in line with plans.

It said the effect on group profits of the acquisition was broadly neutral in the year just ended.

'However, going forward, as we continue to rebuild sales and distribution of these famous brands through the Hornby infrastructure, we expect them to make a significant contribution to group sales and profits,' he said.

Hornby said its Scalextric and Hornby digital control systems had been extremely well received and enjoyed a strong Christmas season.

Pretax profits lifted slightly to 8.1 mln stg from 8 mln beforehand on a 6 pct rise in turnover to 46.9 mln stg.

The company proposed a final dividend of 5.6 pence, resulting in a 5.2 pct rise in the total dividend for the year to 8.1 p against 7.7 p last time.

'We have continued to broaden Hornbys revenue base,' Martin said. 'In terms both of geographical coverage and sector exposure, we have become a significant force in the worldwide hobby market. We will continue to explore opportunities to develop the group further.'

Detailed Results
 

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DT
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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Looking at this we see that annual profits at Hornby fell by 6 per cent on the back of foreign currency movements and higher costs.

Hornby say that they have offset the effects of difficult trade last summer with a stronger showing in the second half of last year.

Hornby felt the effects of both unusually warm weather and the World Cup in the first half, neither conducive to indoor activities (if you dismiss watching TV as an indoor activity).

So with 2007 expected to have record temperatures, are there dark clouds on the horizon for Hornby? Costs are only going to rise as the Chinese workers demand higher wages. As costs increase and prices rise for locos and rolling stock, are we as consumers going to continue to pay higher prices or is there going to be a point where we start to curtail our purchasing?
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 1 Jun 2007, 11:18) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>As costs increase and prices rise for locos and rolling stock, are we as consumers going to continue to pay higher prices or is there going to be a point where we start to curtail our purchasing?
First reaction is that it is good news that Hornby are continuing in profit.

I have already curtailed my spending on certain items. For me, a higher price is justified by the product being 'better'. So spending that bit extra for a Hornby A4, which clearly offers the best ever OO RTR rendition of the streamlined bodywork, is an easy call. Likewise the Britannia, a favourite type from my youth; Hornby's recent introduction the first I have ever bought RTR, at last a model fit to be seen alongside what has been available in mainland Europe for decades. Conversely, the high price for Hornby's Gresley coaches when these are significantly inaccurate, has dissuaded me from buying them. Here the exquisite teak finish actually works against Hornby. There is no way I can see of modifying the body shape and rectifying the mispositioned beading without destroying the finish. A great shame, in a product otherwise right up my street. This seems to me to be the challenge: a higher price can be charged, but the product has to be 'right' and appreciably better than what has gone before, to justify that price.
 

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Sounds like a pretty good result to me too. Most of the increase seems to have come from their Euro operations. France in particular seems to be exceeding expectations:
"Hornby France also achieved significantly higher sales and profits. The strength
of the Jouef brand in France is, if anything, greater than we had anticipated.
Retailers and consumers have been delighted with our reinvigoration of this
iconic French brand and demand has grown accordingly."
I also note they say the UK market is 10% of the European total. I suppose that would make Germany's 50%!
Anyway I think it answers a few questions.
 

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QUOTE (Doug @ 1 Jun 2007, 08:38) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>Hornby said its Scalextric and Hornby digital control systems had been extremely well received ...
Where was this then?
Most commentators on the subject have been pretty scornful of their poorly thought through entry into the DCC market. Presumably this result refers only to volume of sales rather than any universal acclammation of technical excellence.
 

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QUOTE Presumably this result refers only to volume of sales rather than any universal acclammation of technical excellence.

I would tend to agree. I am reminded of the words of a song "in this life one thing counts, in the bank, large amounts".

However, if enough of those buyers encounter problems which are subsequently not resolved, I doubt Hornby will recover (in the DCC world) from the backlash.

David
 

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QUOTE (dwb @ 2 Jun 2007, 02:54) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>I would tend to agree. I am reminded of the words of a song "in this life one thing counts, in the bank, large amounts".

However, if enough of those buyers encounter problems which are subsequently not resolved, I doubt Hornby will recover (in the DCC world) from the backlash.

David
I don't know about that. The majority of Hornby buyers probably aren't aware of anything else.
 

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I was hopeing to have something to get my teeth into with this report but what is says is we are getting bigger and our profits didnt go up much.

I was amused to read the bit about DCC. i wonder if their reputation will ever recover on that front.

The report only furthers my frustrations with the international sector. oah how i would love to buy some of their stock......

It does however suggest a reason for their sluggishness. they want people to buy things in Euro's. i dont think manufacturing in china has incresed in costs anything like that much so i think they have been converting £ into €.

Hmm. lets see what the next 6 months give us.

Peter
 

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Shame their loco's have cheapo can motors, the kind of motor that you used to find in those cheapo made in China and Taiwan toys there were on every market stall in the late 1960's and 70's. The motors are rubbish, you can't replace the brushes when they wear out and a replacement that costs less than 10p in China costs the British buyer £15 inc p&P, no wonder they are doing well. The quality control can best be described as variable, with items being badly assembled, the super detail mustn't be breathed on as you take it carefully out of the box or a bit will break off and occaisonally the paint finish can be poor. Pendolino's that have the wheels drop out when you pick them up, DCC controlled bugs. All in all cheaply made foreign rubbish sold for a mint!
 

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QUOTE (thetriangman)Shame their loco's have cheapo can motors, the kind of motor that you used to find in those cheapo made in China and Taiwan toys there were on every market stall in the late 1960's and 70's. The motors are rubbish, you can't replace the brushes when they wear out and a replacement that costs less than 10p in China costs the British buyer £15 inc p&P, no wonder they are doing well. The quality control can best be described as variable, with items being badly assembled, the super detail mustn't be breathed on as you take it carefully out of the box or a bit will break off and occaisonally the paint finish can be poor. Pendolino's that have the wheels drop out when you pick them up, DCC controlled bugs. All in all cheaply made foreign rubbish sold for a mint!

Hornby is not exactly in my good books at the moment but i think thats a bit harsh.

The can motors are far better than the old open frame motors. due to the lack of contamination the brushes last far longer than the old open frame type. they are far less prone to those people who "fix" things that are not really broken. they cause far less interfearence due to the motor casing acting as a faraday cage.

they are far higher quality than the motors fitted in toys during the 60's and 70's. magnet technology has moved on about 4 generations since then. and we now have them skew wound for smoother running and many of them are 5 pole for more torque at the lower revs.

The replacements cost more than 10p in china. you can get the price very low if you buy them in large quantities but thats the same with evrything. (you dont seriously think that CD at the top of the charts cost more than 3p to make do you?). the situation is the same with evry manufacturer. I think the only recent problem i can think of with an unsuitable motor in a new model was the Bachmann A1. and that was sorted out with a recall.

I think Hornby's quality controll is actually very good. there is the odd problem but they tend to be very good in sorting things out. their customer service is extreamly good.

Their prices are mostly reasonable for the UK stock.

I suspect i can see the big problem here when i read your forum name. "triang man" i think you hanker after the old ways when things were built like battle ships, ran round tight curves and could be fixed by anyone with a sledge hammer and a socket set. sorry mate but those days are over. we live in a global market place now. foreign goods can be good and bad. its simply not fair to imply that foreign means poor quality.

Peter
 

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We've been round this one before .

The can motors fitted to the big new steam engines (and the centre drive diesels) are completely different to the basic Type 7 motor used in Smokey Joe (and even that is by no means as poor as you imply) Just because a motor is a can type does NOT mean its a piece of junk - there are plenty of high quality can motors around, and open frame designs are not inherently superior

The X04 was an excellent design in its day, more than half a century ago , but small electric motor design has moved on since the (real) 9F was state of the art traction

I'm still trying to work out what this "fragile" super detail actually is in the case of diesels . I've not broken anything off either my 31 or my 60 and I'm struggling to think of any obviously vulnerable bits on either (Or any way in which they differ in that respect from Bachmann locos, where the bits also remain resolutely attached. )

As for the Pendolino - there were no problems with the one I saw running on the club project, and I've seen no other claims anywhere else that "the wheels fall out". Whatever the merits or demerits of the Hornby decoder, the Pendolino will shortly be available with a NMRA socket where you can fit a suitable/superior decoder of your own - or none if you prefer - and this looks to me to be a better option. I was prepared for some very ropy running from the Pendolino someone let loose on our part built project , but it was controllable on DCC down to a reasonably slow crawl . It may be that some models are rogue and some not - but here I would strongly suspect a defective decoder or possibly a pickup in need of adjustment
 

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I too have my reservations about the current operations of Hornby, but I think Triangman has an axe to grind. Harking back to the old days in ship modelling terms, wishing for the regeneration of Triang is akin to wishing that Heller/Trumpeter kits of today reverted back to Revell kits of the '50's. Bordering on the ridiculous, to my mind. Notwithstanding the wish for Triang to be reborn, Hornby and Bachmann are responding to this by releasing the Railroad range and maintaining the original models when Bachmann took over the Mainline/Palitoy range.

The problem I have with both main companies is that there are areas where they should agree on, areas which are oft discussed, namely couplings and track. Essentially, most models these days are fine, but some of the design details bear discussion. The apparent opposition to DCC is aired with an almost messianic zeal, when I have found that DCC has saved me buying a host of cabling and switches for my nascent loft layout. True there are problems with my ZTC system, but they are not insurmountable. If there are problems with Hornby DCC, I think it is because they don't appear to be NMRA Compatible/Compliant, and have failed to make it well known that they intended to do their own thing, i.e. make their own brand of DCC and make it known that it was such a thing. However, this may be just that they were moving slowly into the DCC arena, unfortunately/fortunately I have no knowledge of the Hornby DCC products, but I wouldn't give technical advice to anybody as the purchase of these goods. My stated preferred products in DCC are TCS, Esu, TeamDigital, but this arena keeps expanding.

Leaving all this aside, modellers need a strong Bachmann, Hornby and Heljan. The model companies also need a proper working relationship with the interest groups, as well as the customer base.
 

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QUOTE As for the Pendolino - there were no problems with the one I saw running on the club project, and I've seen no other claims anywhere else that "the wheels fall out". Whatever the merits or demerits of the Hornby decoder, the Pendolino will shortly be available with a NMRA socket where you can fit a suitable/superior decoder of your own - or none if you prefer - and this looks to me to be a better option. I was prepared for some very ropy running from the Pendolino someone let loose on our part built project , but it was controllable on DCC down to a reasonably slow crawl . It may be that some models are rogue and some not - but here I would strongly suspect a defective decoder or possibly a pickup in need of adjustment

What DCC system did you use to get it to "reasonably crawl" on? I have used it with Lenz Roco and ESU systems and the poor performance is the same on each. If you used it on the Hornby version of digital I could beleive this but on anything else I haven't heard of anyone who has been satisfied with it's performance. Once the Hornby decoder is removed and replaced with a Lenz decoder it gets better but still suffers from poor power pick up. The wheels are loose and the axle is not wide enough to sit properly on the tracks. Mine haven't fell out yet but I have enough to be going on with without that.
 

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The system used was a Lenz LZ100 , on the club project.

Given the poor reports from yourself and Trains4U , I was expecting a stuttering run with a high stall speed, but although it wasn't going to creep in the manner of my new 108 with a Bachmann/ESU back EMF decoder in it, the Pendolino seemed fully controllable, capable of running pretty slowly - I would call it a crawl , though it wasn't near the "2 inches a minute" bracket - without stalling,. It started without trouble, accelated happily and ran at speed without problems. Certainly it didn't "stutter along " in the slow speed range.

We did have problems with a Turbostar that wasn't behaving properly - in fact ran worse than the Pendolino. On opening the body we found the black wire was hanging on by 3 strands... A quick resoldering and the Turbostar was fine - a little better than the Pendolino , which I would expect

Hence my speculation that a dodgy conection somewhere , either in the decoder , or possibly the pick ups , might be the issue. It does sound as if performance may vary from model to model , and if you are struggling with the pickups , poorly adjusted picks sounds like the most likely suspect

Interestingly Trains4U indicated it "ran sweetly enough on DC". This does sound as if pickup may be an issue

I wouldn't expect it to move 8-9 coaches unaided - what the practical limit of the mechanism is , I'm not sure

QUOTE The wheels are loose and the axle is not wide enough to sit properly on the tracks. Mine haven't fell out yet but I have enough to be going on with without that.

Are you saying the wheels are loose on their axles ? Or that the wheelset is slopping about in the axle holes ? Or that the back to back is too narrow? The one I saw went happily enough through our hand built pointwork so the wheels can't have been set too close together

The Pendolino I saw was someone else's , so I didn't handle it closely, but this is the first I've heard of a suggestion about wheelsets falling out
 

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QUOTE Hence my speculation that a dodgy conection somewhere , either in the decoder , or possibly the pick ups , might be the issue. It does sound as if performance may vary from model to model , and if you are struggling with the pickups , poorly adjusted picks sounds like the most likely suspect

I did a bit of investigative work yesterday and found what I beleive to be the problem (with power pick up, not the decoder). The pickups have a small bit which sticks out which is in contact with the wheel. The small surface area of contact limits the ability to pick up power. Also most of the copper pickup is painted black. On some the paint overlapped onto the small bit which was in contact with the wheel thus preventing it from picking up power. This would explain the variability of performance. The only way I have got this to work slowly at all is by changing the decoder.

I am really surprised that you got a reasonable performance using a Lenz 100, I used Lenz, Ecos and the Roco system and performance was poor on all. The bucket of spanners sound and vibration was there on all systems.

The wheels are loose in their bogies but not so much that they would fall out of their own accord. Having compared it with the Trix DC wheels sets, they are pretty similar and the same width.
 

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QUOTE Also most of the copper pickup is painted black. On some the paint overlapped onto the small bit which was in contact with the wheel thus preventing it from picking up power. This would explain the variability of performance.

I think this could be it.

I remember some comments about a rogue Heljan loco on another forum. Heljan mechanisms are normally rated very highly and the advice from someone was to check the pickups and make sure all were actually in contact with the wheels , as he'd had several cases of locos which were initially found to be poor performers on DCC - on inspection several of the pickups were not in contact with the wheels and when this was sorted out , the loco ran beautifully

It seems DCC signal is much more sensitive to any intermittant contact than DC . This makes sense - it's not just power, its a data signal and poor contact could corrupt the packets. There's even an article in the current MRM on adding pickups to early releases of the Bachmann 66 to improve DCC running - it came with 8 wheel pick up, but he's boosted it to 12:

QUOTE As bought the 4mm Bachmann 66 is an impressive runner, capable of very slow speeds over complex pointwork, even workijng remarkably well over dirty track.!. However conversion of my layout to DCC...appeared significantly to impair the smooth operation of the locos...the cl 66s still stalled consierably more than they ever did during conventional DC operation

If pickups are being insulated by stray paint , this could have disasterous effects on DCC running quality. Remember the Pendolino has traction tyres , so its picking up from 2 wheels on one side and 4 on the other. (This is my big objection to traction tyres...) If one of the pickups on the side with only 2 pickups to start with is partly covered in paint and making intermittant contact , no wonder the DCC running becomes dire. If boosting pickups from 4 to 6 wheels on each side produces a noticeable improvement in DCC running , what price a Pendo with only one functioning contact on one side......????

Especially when it hits pointwork or a spot of dirt

This would also explain why yours has problems and the one I saw didn't. The problem varies from loco to loco dependant on the over enthusiasm of the person with the paintbrush in China

I prescribe a fibre glass pencil , applied to the affected area till symptoms disappear.......
 

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QUOTE If pickups are being insulated by stray paint , this could have disasterous effects on DCC running quality. Remember the Pendolino has traction tyres , so its picking up from 2 wheels on one side and 4 on the other. (This is my big objection to traction tyres...) If one of the pickups on the side with only 2 pickups to start with is partly covered in paint and making intermittant contact , no wonder the DCC running becomes dire. If boosting pickups from 4 to 6 wheels on each side produces a noticeable improvement in DCC running , what price a Pendo with only one functioning contact on one side......????

I have to say I do see the anti traction tyres arguement after this experience. The problem is that the loco is so light in weight that it needs them to gain purchase on the rails. The Bachmann Turbostar has the same amount of wheels in contact with the rails but doesn't have the same problems as it has significantly more weight to give it traction.
 

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The Turbostar has a centre motor driving both bogies, so all the weight of the vehicle is adhesive

With a single motor bogie , only half the weight of the Pendolino power car translates into adhesion and traction. (the rest is on unpowered wheels)

The Turbostar could well have close to 3 times as much weight on driven axles......
 

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QUOTE (Ravenser @ 7 Jun 2007, 20:31) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>It seems DCC signal is much more sensitive to any intermittant contact than DC . This makes sense - it's not just power, its a data signal and poor contact could corrupt the packets.

I prescribe a fibre glass pencil , applied to the affected area till symptoms disappear.......

Whilst agreeing with this statement & the fact that is relatively easy for (probably) most of us on this forum to check that all the pickups are working correctly you cannot expect the "man in the street" AKA "Mr Average Hornby Customer" to do this - after all is not the Pendelino amained at the trainset market ?

Trainset or high quality locomotive - it should work correctly first time straight out of the box. Does not say much for the quality control on Neils ill fated set. I thought that the days of having to tweak new purchase was well & truely over !
 
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