INTERVIEW: Hornby and the Olympics

ToyNews talks to Alex Balzaretti, project manager for the London 2012 range at Hornby.
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What kind of sell-through did you see approaching and during the Olympics for your branded products? Has this met or exceeded your expectations?

We have lines in our range that have been sold out for over two years and other lines that have grown in popularity as we got closer to the Games and have since sold out and then we have others that are slower sellers. The one thing that massively exceeded my expectations was the Torch relay and the impact it had on our sales. So much so that we requested and were given rights to make a mass market mini torch model and this was completed from start to finish in 12 weeks and we sold 50k pieces in just over a month, from a standing start.

Do you expect sales of the Olympics toys to continue, post-Games? 

The country has got behind Team GB and celebrations of ‘Our Greatest Team’ look to continue for into the near future. Many tourists and visitors to the capital who were not here for the games, will I’m sure want a lasting memento of this historic experience.

Which Hornby lines have been selling well in particular around the Games?

The Corgi red London Bus. Iconic, classic symbol of both heritage and contemporary Britain. By the time the contract expires for London 2012 Hornby will have sold in excess of 350,000 pieces of product in the London Bus shape, either as a Diecast model or as a keyring. Ever since Boris Johnson took it to represent the symbol of London at the 2008 Beijing games handover ceremony, it has become synonymous with the London 2012 games.

Tell us about your partnership with John Lewis - did they receive any Hornby Olympics products exclusively, or before other retailers?

John Lewis have not had any exclusive items from us nor have they had any items before anyone else, they are just an outstanding example of committing themselves fully and whole heartedly to event retail and have stood out massively from the crowd. 

They spent time and money establishing themselves as the destination retailer for London 2012 and we have been proud to support them all the way. We have worked closely with them on forecasting and rates of sale through the process, which has ultimately resulted in ensuring they have had the breadth of product and point of sale to support that product all the way through the process to maximise fully on both theirs and our opportunity.

Tell us about your marketing plan for your Olympics products...

Reviewing what we have committed over the last four years though, can only be summarised as the biggest marketing support programme both financially and in breadth and depth of activity that the company has every undertake for a single license brand within our business. 

From taxi advertising, celebrity/sporting partnerships, concessions store roll outs, PR events and activities, POS and promotional support both above and below the line, consumer experience events, experiential product events. No stone has been left un-turned. Even as far as opening Hornby’s very own shop, a first for our business, right on the doorstep on the Olympic Games, in Westfield Stratford.

What other ranges are you focusing on next?

Hornby has plenty more coming following the end of the Games. Our Moshi Monster range continues to build momentum and has been really well received at retail, the long awaited Scalextric Star Wars range will be released this Autumn and bound to be at the top of Christmas lists for both the young and young at heart.

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