Toy market news

Extraordinarily high demand for model trains

Märklin reports on business development in 2020

At the start of 2021, the Göppingen-based model train manufacturer Märklin has released its sales figures and reports on business development last year.

Florian Sieber, Managing Director of Märklin, is satisfied with the results despite the uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic: “As a result of the lockdown last spring, we have had to adjust our sales forecast for the financial year 2019/2020 from around €117m to €112m. We are currently on course to slightly exceed the previous year’s sales figures of €112m in the financial year 2020/2021, although this is not easy to assess due to the ongoing lockdown measures and the resulting closure of toy stores. However, it is very positive that, at the end of December, orders were 40% higher at Märklin than at the same time last year, which obviously gives us a reason to feel very optimistic about 2021.”

The market is showing signs of increased demand for model trains. “Many Märklin fans had more time to spend on their hobby than usual in 2020, while others decided to try their hand at a new hobby. The huge response that our service team alone received was overwhelming,” says Florian Sieber. “We have boosted our production capacities – both in terms of machinery and personnel – and feel confident about turning the increased orders into sales under normal conditions. Of course, the key to success is how quickly we can manufacture the goods and how the retail situation develops in our core markets.”

With the exception of a model-related decline in Gauge 1 product sales, a rise in orders can be seen across all other product groups and gauges. Besides Germany, we also achieved satisfactory rates of growth, in particular, in Benelux countries and the USA.

Märklin’s earnings and financial position can still be assessed as positive and sound.

Investments

Märklin invested at the same high level in 2020 as it did in 2019. In addition to purchasing a new die-cast machine and injection moulding machine for the facility in Göppingen, a new CNC milling machine was also acquired for the apprentice workshop. Extensive investments were also made in the model train manufacturer’s IT capabilities. Money was additionally invested in the new märklineum and steam locomotive 44 1315, which stands in the grounds of the company’s headquarters, was restored and placed under a protective cover. The plant in Hungary received a new injection moulding machine and additional colour printing machines.

Investments of a similar nature are planned for 2021. This applies to new products, machines and buildings. Machinery, in particular, will be further enhanced to meet the increase in demand. Plans have already been put forward to construct a canteen for märklineum staff and guests in the märklineum building.

Employees

In mid-2020, Märklin raised the number of full-time employees in Hungary by 5% and plans to increase staff capacities by a further 5% during 2021. In Germany, the number of employees is set to remain at the previous year’s level. Märklin currently employs 470 people in Göppingen.

Märklin: Connecting Generations

The new safe distancing guidelines made many things impossible in 2020. The planned Märklin Roadshow could not be organised, while Märklin fans had to go without the open house event and the numerous national and international model train exhibitions. The COVID-19 situation has seen the Märklin team placing an even higher emphasis on digital communication channels. A lot of online content is currently being prepared. Newcomers, in particular, are increasingly engaging with their new hobby on YouTube, Instagram and Facebook.

“It was great that the new Jim Button film still screened in cinemas last autumn. After a positive response from customers, the Märklin model train sets based on the film sold well,” says a delighted Florian Sieber.

The popular story of the orphan Jim Button, Emma the steam loco and the engine driver Luke, who leave their tiny island called Morrowland and have many adventures along the way, has been fascinating fans, both young and old, for many years. The film version, based on the successful children’s book by Michael Ende, was a huge box office success in 2018, pulling in more than 1.8 million people. The Märklin Start up play set offered by Märklin sold out within a short space of time. The successful cooperation between Märklin and Warner Bros. continued in 2020 with the second part of the story of Jim Button and the engine driver Luke.  

When describing an important strategy of the model train manufacturer, Florian Sieber says: “At Märklin, we will continue to focus on ‘Märklin Connects Generations’. Unfortunately, we are not yet sure whether the IMA 2021 can go ahead. As soon as it is possible to do so, we will be delighted to open our doors and welcome our loyal Märklin fans and families to the new märklineum!”   

‘märklineum’

Offering roughly 3,000 m² of exhibition space, the new museum at the company’s headquarters in Göppingen will provide collectors and families from around the world access to a fascinating model railway layout and the Märklin world of adventures.
 
The landmark of the märklineum is the giant Class 44 steam loco 1315, which welcomes visitors to the site. The first construction phase included a museum shop with a treasure trove of goodies and a service area designed in the style of a roundhouse.

The highly detailed and impressive exhibition with many interactive exhibits has now been completed and will be open to the general public as soon as the current COVID-19 pandemic subsides.

Fascinating new models for Märklin fans

To kick off 2021, all three brands of the Göppingen-based model train manufacturer will be launching a total of 275 new products spread across all gauges. Märklin will be presenting 162 new fascinating models; Trix/Minitrix fans can look forward to 77 and LGB fans to 36 new models.