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Hornby Hobbies’ St Pancras pop-up is ‘just the start of major retail plans’

A pop-up Hornby Hobbies store located at London’s St Pancras station is just the first of many Hornby branded mini shops to be opening up in ‘high profile locations’ across the UK, the toy train and model specialist has confirmed.

Speaking with ToyNews, the British heritage hobby brand has outlined its plans to have re-opened 55 concessions in UK High Street locations by the end of September, just in time for the Christmas gift-buying season.

According to Tim Mulhall, COO of Hornby Hobbies, the recently opened St Pancras pop-up store has already ‘triggered a number of enquiries from landlords and retailers looking to work with the brand,’ fuelling optimism that by 2020, says the Hornby boss, “you’ll see Hornby Group products appearing in more locations.”

“This is very early days, and we are trialling a form of retail in a location we’ve never been brave enough to try before,” Mulhall told ToyNews. “However, the response from customers and travellers would indicate this is something which could be a longer term, or larger operation in the future.

“Thankfully we have over 2,500 products so there are quite a few others we can add to the display.”

The past 18 months have seen a ‘huge sea of change’ sweep over Hornby Hobbies’ product range and approach to the market as the firm has look to adapt to the evolving toy space, its technology and the tastes of the consumer.

“Many consumers and indeed retailers will not be fully aware of the much more mainstream products now in our portfolio,” continued Mulhall. “It made sense to position our best new items in one of the highest footfall locations in our capital city to maximise exposure.

“Obviously, with so many of our products being British or tourist related, an International Railway Station Terminus made perfect sense.”

Through its pop-up initiative, as well as its new approach to the market, Hornby now hopes to achieve three major mission points: recruit new users to the brand, educate them on how to build and develop, and ‘remind the general public that Hornby is one British company offering 13 different product brands.’

“We often struggle to get retailers to look beyond our range of 20 years ago,” added Mulhall, speaking of the firm’s heritage and the nostalgic note it hits with older generations, stressing that the portfolio is much larger than that.

“So far our new approach in 2019 has resulted in the BBC2 TV series, the Concession Stores, the pop-up, a new YouTube channel including live content, and later this week you will see a return to TV with adverts supporting our key brands.

“The core of our approach is to bring delight to people through model and hobbies. After 18 months hard work, the new team now have a product range which lives up to this aspiration.”

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