Hornby on track as Tornado loco provides some extra puff

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Hornby reported its new "lower-spec" locomotive had been a hit with customers yesterday as it posted a 4 per cent rise in half-yearly sales.

The Airfix and Corgi firm said its new Tornado loco appealed to hobby fans because it is a slightly less detailed product and available at a more competitive price. The Tornado's "very encouraging" performance helped Hornby offset lower sales of Scalextric, which has suffered as retailers delay the arrival of Christmas stock and tougher comparisons with trading a year ago.

Hornby said underlying pre-tax profits for the six months to September rose 80 per cent to £1.2m on turnover up 11 per cent at £28.4m.

Improvements in its supply chain, following difficulties in China, helped to lift sales in continental Europe, while Hornby has also seen growing demand for merchandise linked to the London Olympics. It said it was particularly encouraged by orders from China, where interest in the London event is high following the Beijing Games.

The company added: "Over the the next 12 months our London 2012 sales will help to cushion the group against challenges in the wider economic environment."