Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Hattons - A big business
Check out this article from the Liverpool Post on Hattons
Fascinating - or at least it is to me. I mean those of us who read the popular model railway press can't avoid the massive adverts they take in all the magazines, but it certainly seems to be paying off with an £8 million turnover.
This is pretty good for what people keep telling me is "a dying hobby" with aged enthusiasts dropping off the perch at every opportunity. Maybe the key to the success is encapsulated within this quote:
“A lot of our customers,” she said, “are older people whose finances are more settled."
Basically, the market is made up of old blokes buying toy trains. And there is nothing wrong with this. After all, who can complain about a business that keeps 44 people in work simply selling stuff that no one really needs ?
It's years since I visited the shop when exhibiting at Liverpool. They were in the old premises and I remember the shop area was tiny but when you peered over the counter, the warehouse ran off into the distance like the one at the end of the first Indian Jones film. A telephone was constantly ringing, these were pre-interweb days, and the stock was exactly what you saw in the advert. While we watched a train set was broken up so the loco could be sold. The unwanted coaches were quickly stored in an appropriate cubbyhole for sale later. I guess that train sets are cheaper than individual items and this was a way of getting product at lower prices.
Now they are busy commissioning models. There can't be many people who haven't heard of the Beyer Garratt that will join the range in a year or so. I remember Dapol threatening to bring this out in the 90's but when that project died (the chassis was tooled but no the body once they decided it would never sell) I'd assumed that that was it for RTR Garrats. Now I have to worry what to do with the kit I have stashed away !
(Hat-tip to David Brown for spotting the article and telling me about it)