The Mirror: The Chinese have gone London 2012 bonkers, with Hornby reporting booming demand for Olympic-themed toys.
The firm is shipping 2012 branded busses, taxis and Minis to 500 stores in China after a flood of interest.
Boss Frank Martin put the unexpected boost down to a Beijing bounce, with many people in China gripped by Olympic fever following the Games there.
He said: “We have already made the first shipments and we expect this new market to be an important contributor to our London 2012 sales.”
Most of the products are made in China yet, because of the ordering process, they’re shipped to the UK and then back again.
Martin said the Games, plus a host of new products, should ensure Hornby a “cracking” 2012. The upbeat tone came as Hornby announced profits soared 80% to £1.2 million ($1.9 million) in the six months to October.
The firm is enjoying strong overseas sales, with demand for train sets in Germany especially strong. Germans spend more per person on train sets than anyone else in the world.
Hornby’s group sales rose 11% to £28.4m ($45.7 million) in the six month period, driven by a 50% surge in overseas takings. Sales in the UK, meanwhile, edged up 4% with orders from store chains higher than in previous years.The firm has responded to customers’ money worries by launching more value products, including its Tornado train set.
Sales of Airfix kits were up this year, although demand for Scalextric sets fell.
Hornby’s Corgi arm was also up, also helped by London 2012 merchandise. Hornby has also secured the toy rights to a new kids’ TV show, Olly the Little White Van, which it hopes will prove a hit.