Page last updated at 11:39 GMT, Friday, 7 November 2008

Hornby banking on Lewis Hamilton

Lewis Hamilton
Hornby hopes that McClaren Scalextric sets will feature on Christmas lists.

Toymaker Hornby says its Lewis Hamilton and James Bond Scalextric racing cars will give its business a boost in the run-up to Christmas.

The firm reported lower profits because of costs related to its Corgi acquisition and supply problems.

Best-known for its model railway sets, the firm has recently broadened its range of brands, which now include Corgi, Airfix and Humbrol.

It said the hobby sector should hold up well during the economic downturn.

"The retail markets are undoubtedly more challenging," said Frank Martin, Hornby chief executive.

"However, the hobby sector has distinctive defensive characteristics, which will help us in a more difficult economic environment," he added.

F1 boost

Sales of its McLaren Scalextric racing cars are likely to get a boost after Lewis Hamilton won the Formula 1 championship, the company said.

The firm is also planning an Airfix model kit to cash in on the star driver's success.

A new Scalextric set is based on the new James Bond movie, Quantum of Solace.

The firm made a profit before tax of 1.8m in the six months to the end of September, down from 2.7m the year before, mainly due to a 1.3m increase in overheads related to its takeover of Corgi.

Sales were also lower because of problems at a Chinese supplier.

Hornby said that it had agreed to pay the supplier more - in response to rising raw material costs - and the disruption had been resolved.

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