Hornby considers closure of Margate offices and visitor centre moving to 'more suitable locations' following warehouse transfer to Hersden, Canterbury

Model manufacturer Hornby is set to redevelop its historic Kent headquarters following the move of its warehouse operations to a new site this year.

The company’s offices in Margate, where it has been based since 1954, are only partially occupied after the business transferred its distribution and storage operations to Hersden, near Canterbury.

The firm has appointed Jones Laing Laselle to advise on a possible redevelopment of its Margate site, which also includes its visitor centre.

Hornby losses increased last year
Hornby losses increased last year

It is understood office staff will also move to the Hersden base in the near future but the visitor centre will remain open while options are considered.

This could involve a move closer to the seafront to capitalise on the resurgence of the seaside town led by the Turner Contemporary and reopening of Dreamland next year.

No job losses are expected from either move.

In an interim report released to the London Stock Exchange, the firm said: “Consideration is being given to moving the offices and visitor centre to more suitable locations within the local area in order that the whole site can then be redeveloped.”

It comes as the company announced a reduction in losses of more than £500,000 following its move to the new 100,000 sq ft warehouse and a growth in sales.

Hornby increased underlying losses last year
Hornby increased underlying losses last year

The firm reported a decrease in bottom line losses to £520,000 in the six months to the end of September, down from losses of £1.09m in the same period last year.

Underlying pre-tax profits actually grew to £250,000, compared with a loss of £850,000.

The was mainly due to the rise in sales, up 8% to £24.2m, with international business responsible for most of the growth, up 21%. UK sales grew by 5%.

“The move to the new warehouse facility has been completed smoothly, which gives us the foundations on which we have the room to grow..." - Hornby's Richard Ames

The company said it was “well positioned” ahead of Christmas trading period, supported by the completion of its warehouse move last month. The operations there are run by DS Logistics.

Chief executive Richard Ames said: “We are encouraged with the advances that the group is making.

“During the first half of the year, the team has made material progress in organising the turnaround of the company.

“The move to the new warehouse facility has been completed smoothly, which gives us the foundations on which we have the room to grow.

“Looking ahead, the results for the full year will depend on the success of the Christmas trading season. Current indications are that it will meet our expectations.”

Hornby losses widened in its latest annual results
Hornby losses widened in its latest annual results

The changes in the business come after some tough years for Hornby.

In its last financial results, the company reported losses of £4.4m in the year to the end of March 2014, up from losses of £2.5m the year before.

As well as its Hornby model rail range, the firm also owns Airfix and Humbrol model kits and paints brands.

Other products include Corgi in die-cast and Scalextric slot racing. Hornby has expanded internationally with the acquisition of Electrotren, Rivarossi, Jouef and Arnold.

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