Hornby trains hit by delays

Hornby, the company which makes model trains, has hit a slowdown in new product development. In the past four years it has bought a number of businesses in Europe and the company's suppliers have found it difficult to cope with the sheer variety of trains running on the continent. The company is bringing in new engineers and design staff to cope. (The Times, 28 January 2008)

Frank Martin, chief executive, said: 'The problem is all about the rate we have been able to bring product to market. In the UK, our business is much more straightforward as we just cater for one market. In Europe, you are trying to cater for all different types of locomotives, colour schemes and logos. We have found it has been difficult to get everything 100% right first time.' (The Times, 29 January 2008)

Based on the level of demand from model railway fans, it is believed that Hornby had missed possible sales of £1 million. However, the business is performing very well with significant growth in the UK and sales in the first nine months to December 2007 up by about 20%. Other core brands, including Scalextric and Airfix, are also performing well. (The Times, 28 January 2008)

Although its products may be traditional, the Margate-based company keeps up with the technological advances of the digital age. A Scalextric system now includes an electronic chip which enables more cars to be raced around the circuit at greater speeds. A tie-up with the McLaren Formula 1 team enabled it to make replica cars and feature the image of Lewis Hamilton. This resulted in a 30% increase in sales of Scalextric cars. A new Scalextric set based on the new James Bond film 'Quantum of Solace' is being produced. (The Independent, 28 January 2008)

The Times 100 case studies on Experian and Portakabin show how two diverse businesses deal with new product development:

  • Portakabin uses a number of processes to ensure that it can deliver high quality products, including research and development of new product ideas.
  • Experian uses the company's knowledge of individuals and markets to build and develop a wide range of products relevant to its customers.


The Times, 28 January 2008 (print edition)

The Times Online – Hornby delayed by the finer points of Europe's railways, 29 January 2008

Hornby – Home page

The Times 100 Case Studies – Experian, Entering a new market with a new product

The Times 100 Case Studies – Portakabin, How market research helps Portakabin to remain at the cutting edge

Potential questions:

  • Define the product term 'simulated adaptation'.
  • Value analysis is one of the stages of new product development. Explain what it involves.
  • List the other stages of new product development.