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Iconic British model maker Hornby brings Humbrol paint manufacturing back home

Enamel paints to be produced in North West London

Somewhat less popular today than it used to be, it is a matter of some nostalgia that generations of Britain’s youngsters have grown up making plastic model kits. In the age before computer gaming and dawn-to-dusk children’s TV channels, a staple past time was building Airfix or Revell models. The paint brand that was used to finish the models off is truly a British icon - Humbrol.

Humbrol brand owner, the equally iconic model train brand Hornby, packed manufacturing of the enamel paints off to China 10 years ago. But now it’s coming back to the UK. Established in 1924, small British family-run firm Rustins is to produce the entire Humbrol range of finishing products in North West London.

Rustins trumped competitors in China and India

Hornby chief executive, Frank Martin, said the upheaval was sparked by the rising costs of labour in China, which he said trebled in the last seven years and are set to double again in the next decade. He also emphasised how Rustins trumped competitors in China and India by saying: “In the end they could give us the best combination of price, quality, and speed of service.”

Hornby is an example of a brand owner with a geographically diversified supply chain. Humbrol adhesives are made in India, where production also moved from China recently, and its acrylic spray paints are made in Manchester. Hornby’s model manufacturing operations remain in China where they are more cost-effective.

Diversification of the manufacturing base

This diversification across the manufacturing base is a strategy that many organisations may see as highly desirable; placing all the manufacturing eggs in one basket, such as China, exposes the supply chain to risk. Hornby itself was recently dogged with supply chain issues caused by its main model production facility in China, leading the company to issue a profit warning in September, citing “substantial” disruptions.

Mr Martin also said: “There are certain things now which have become viable to manufacture in the UK where five years ago might not have been. It is no longer automatically cheaper to look overseas. The more we can manufacture in the UK, the more we will do so.” Diversify your supply chain with NetSuite If you operate in the wholesale and distribution sector then you might want to diversify your supply chain. Using NetSuite ERP to manage your supply chain end-to-end across various product ranges and lines enables you to monitor increases in TLCs (Total Landed Costs) that erode your margins. However your supply chain is configured, NetSuite provides the insight you need to take control of your supply chain strategy. BlueBridge One custom implements NetSuite to meet the specific needs of each customer. As one of only two UK Three Star Award winners, NetSuite recognises our expertise and commitment to delivering customer value from NetSuite ERP. Click this link to register with BlueBridge One for a FREE 14 day trial of NetSuite.

Follow this link to see ‘Hornby model paint production exits China as costs soar’ at telegraph.co.uk.

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