Never mind the bollocks,

Hornby  R3124  42xx after modifications

Hornby R3124
42xx after modifications

‘Most people don’t understand how to change and readily accept the formats that are given to them.’
Author Mr Johnny Rotten

Well if that one sentence doesn’t sum up the overriding conservative, sometimes moribund attitude of railway modellers to the hobby and its future, I don’t know what does. Well, apart from the industry insider commentary in May 2015’s BRM on the matter of review samples for magazines. I wouldn’t want to suggest it was written by a half wit, only for the fear that I may appear to be being seen as over generous.

Twenty Years Of easyJet

Twenty Years Of easyJet

So what’s easyJet got to do with toy trains? Well I see parallels in Hornbys recent actions with the low cost model development that has taken place within the airline industry that I was part of. Twenty years ago at the beginning of the information age, the likes of easyJet and Ryanair started on their journey. I’ll use easyJet as the example of change. This means that automatically I’ll reduce the numbers of people trying to out whinge each other about how bad Ryanair is. Any Ozmates or Kiwis that think us Poms can whinge really haven’t heard anything until you read a Ryanair story. Once read, Pavlov’s dog style, you have to up the ante by adding your own horror travel story, (it’s the law or something), embellished to be worse than the one you’ve just read. It doesn’t matter if you’re one of those slobs that throws your rubbish on the floor of the aircraft for some galleycat to clean up after you, delaying a turnround, you’ve paid for your ticket so you’re now entitled to run the airline, tell everyone on the internet how it should be done, and crucially, treat its employees like dirt. Apparently.

Hornby to my eyes are going for a ‘Lo-Co’ business model, low cost, not so much to us customers, though there have been and will be deals to be had, but in their operation, and commercial outlook. Low cost however is easily mistaken by idiots for low quality, see ticket purchaser, above. If you’ve worked in a highly competitive low cost environment the changes that Hornby have made make sense. If you’re still living in a world where the removal of the privilege of having free review samples amounts to an ‘epitome of sublime ignorance and arrogance at work’, then you have been sleep walking for the last twenty years or so. It was exactly those sorts of attitudes that allowed easyJet to capture their market so efficiently and relatively easily, and why so many of the competitors, putting it bluntly, died, or were swallowed up. easyJet took on the existing companies by starting with their running costs as low as possible, really simple things like cheap modern premises, no company cars, no discount agreements for other companies, and the clever use of high profile media and media promotions to sell direct to the buying public.

Ryanair Marketing and PR 101

Ryanair
Marketing and PR 101

Now, I’ve no idea about the company cars, but there’s already some familiar elements in what Hornby are doing to how a Lo-Co cost business model works. New premises and modern warehousing, a different pricing structure for dealers, direct sales to the end user, clever use of contemporary media. Clever use, including ‘photobombing’ competitor announcements. This appears to have upset all manner of foamers who don’t or can’t think past the regimented, ‘we’ve always done it this way approach’. Its extraordinary to think that there are 14 pages of largely garbage written about the review sample policy, 20 pages of largely garbage on can Hornby afford to sell direct, etc etc on foamers choice. What is really simple is this, that Hornby have staff with significant retail experience on board. They are of the generation that have got their heads around social media and how to use it effectively both in communication and sales. The industry insider clearly has no experience of using the internet to do whatever he does, though he does think the devil is in the detail in this marketing stuff especially that Hornby film ‘The Jumper’.

So a quick Google search finds: www.google.co.uk/search?q=Hornby+the+jumper I don’t think that’s what he meant. Perhaps if he’d paid attention to detail he’d  have mentioned this film https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQPjMU0iAsI  If he was so good at this marketing stuff he’d have at least found out what the Hornby J15 video was actually called before he wrote about its ‘faults’.

IMG_3987

Its very interesting that since November 2014 we have had three brand new products being shown to customers in their pre production format at Warley, and now they are on the shelves. No pre announcements for the NE hoppers, LMS horse box and LMS suburban coaches.
Hornby is a huge name in the hobby, we play with ‘Hornby’ to the public perception, doesn’t matter if its S7/P4/2FS/OO/TT/N/HO, its all ‘Hornby’. I have few doubts that Hornby will continue to advertise in the analogue media, and produce their catalogue annually for a while to come. This will cover their ‘magazine’ requirements. For those potential customers that don’t use social media, or the interweb, they’ll lose out, get over it. The Lo-Co airlines cut out the travel agencies, you had to book direct, by phone. Within a couple of years or so the call centres blossomed and died, the internet took over for sales and administration of ticket sales. If you want to travel with a Lo-Co today you need the internet, or someone with access to it. The number of lost sales to those who don’t have access to the net is massively outweighed by those who do. There’s very little benefit in giving significant discounts to retailers if you can sell direct to the public via mail order, Amazon anyone? If Smiths Model shop is buying three engines, there’s almost no difference in the logistics to sell those three direct to the end customers, the public, from your own warehouse with a far better profit and yeild for Hornby.

Hornby have potentially realised this, if you want to know about their products, or buy them, never mind the bollocks, type Hornby into Google and get your debit card out. Simples.

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11 Responses to Never mind the bollocks,

  1. neilsidea says:

    I won’t have a word said against the wonderful Mr. O’Leary and his great service to us expats in the south west of France and his great marketing methods. The best was ‘making people pay for the loo’ announcement and the acres of free advertising he received on the BBC, ITV and all the newspapers ( made on 1st April)! We have flown Lourdes to Stansted for 20€ both ways – price from air France (when they operate) 245€ one way. They are only still operating by the French government bunging them millions in subsidies.
    Onto messrs. Hornby – they have to go where the market is and the customers are and being down here that means some limited online shopping. However, when back in the UK I often visit a local model shop to stock up on their and other manufacturers products as I like to look and feel the item before buying. It costs more but I like to give my support where I can. Similar with buying books and I bought my new Pentax in a small camera shop in our nearest big town, Pau, which cost me 30€ more than buying on line but the owner added a 32gb SD card and I had a demo on the camera as well.

  2. Chris Folland says:

    Hi Paul,
    do you have an article on your 42xx modification ? It’s a nice looking “heavy weight”

    • bawdsey says:

      Hi Chris, I don’t at the moment. It is a mix of Hornby/Brassmasters/me in terms of the mods, and one I’m going to revisit.
      Brgds Paul M-P

  3. Adrian Swain says:

    Hi Totally agree with comments on “Never mind the bollocks” and I said much the same a couple of days ago on MRE. The only questions being, have Hornby jumped too soon? and will this finally spell the death knell for most remaining retailers both small as well as the big discount box shifters?
    Can they survive without stocking Hornby or will Bachmann follow suit to be competitive, which will surely see them almost all disappear. Will this destroy the smaller suppliers like Dapol, DJ models, Heljan et al. who may not be able to gear up quickly enough to sell direct before their retailers fail. Will the commissioners of models like Kernow, Hattons etc all collapse as they lose their bread and butter finance derived from the red and blue box brigades.
    There are some ominous black clouds on the hoizon but we should not forget Hornby have some severe financial problems especially with the value of the Euro going down and continued recession likely as well as the current deflation in this country, both being likely to reduce sales in the face of ever rising Chinese production costs. The words “cliff edge” spring to mind but perhaps I am too pessimistic. adrianbs

    • bawdsey says:

      My feeling is no, they’ve not jumped too soon. Other manufacturers will have to consider following suit. I don’t see a lack of shops as being to great a hurdle if the web interface is user friendly and accessible. Exactrail in the states are a smaller quality manufacturer and they sell direct, at one time prior to May 2012 they supplied dealers through a network ‘like its always been done’.

      Guess what?, those Exactrail people, bloody chancers, they said we can do this by ourselves, selling direct to the punter, and three years later, they are. Like many things in this hobby there are a large number of bog ostriches out there, with their heads firmly wedged round the bend. They are the ones you can walk up to and twat with a baseball bat before they’ve even heard you coming, they are the people who say ‘It can’t be done, we’ve always done it THIS way’. In the workshop I have a small number of Exactrail freight cars. I bought them living on the other side of the world. It really isn’t that difficult. Please log on to your local forum for local people to read 365 pages on why it can’t be done. Then when you’ve realised you’re not getting that sixteen hours back, click on the Exactrail website and order some stuff, it’s really good.

  4. Dunks says:

    About twenty years ago, I was on a demo stand, and took the opportunity to cut 10 thou cubes of plastic card from sheet, and then float them onto a brakevan I was building. I mention this as a youngish mother called to her 8 year old son with the memorable phrase, “Thomas, come over here and see how Hornby make their trains!” As you say, to most of the public, model railways equals Hornby.
    If Hornby wish to sell directly, then why shouldn’t they? How is this different to the major discount warehouses taking orders on-line? Neither supports the bits and pieces for sale from the local hobby shop, so there is no difference to the impact on the hobby.
    For Hornby, our hobby happens to be their business. They need to run it like one, or they won’t have it to run… I suspect the hobby’s equivalent of the “chattering classes” (foamers to you) haven’t grasped that.

    Simon

    • bawdsey says:

      You’re on a roll with your thinking my friend. All we need now is for you to use your considerable powers to tell, not persuade or influence, TELL, Hornby to bring production back to the UK, they’re doing at all wrong you know!

  5. Dunks says:

    PS. Just read the “letters” which have taken up two pages of editorial space in the June RM. Apart from the obvious point that Hornby’s internet sales will live and die by the quality of their website and sales (and after sales) service, they are about as useful and informative as a page taken up on that increasingly old and stale topic of, “I like 12v dc, and won’t change to DCC.” The rest , it seems to me, is a curious mxture of self-contradiction, cant and in one case, personal comments about the presumed age of one of Hornby’s senior managers.

    • bawdsey says:

      Indeed Dunks, and in foamers corner similar comments regarding those same people from a manufacturer who hasn’t produced anything yet. Oh the irony!

  6. Charlie Easterbrook says:

    I love the use of the word ‘foamer’. Where did it originate?

    • bawdsey says:

      I’m not sure, I’ve heard it used in US contexts too, but it does encapsulate the personality trait to a ‘T’.

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