World's last Meccano factory to close next year in France

Created in the 19th century, generations of children have built mechanical devices using the kits



A worker checks packaging with toys parts on a production line of model construction system Meccano at its factory in Calais. The iconic Meccano factory, which produces the century-old construction toys in Calais, is set to close by 2024, its owner, the Canadian group Spin Master, announced. - AFP
A worker checks packaging with toys parts on a production line of model construction system Meccano at its factory in Calais. The iconic Meccano factory, which produces the century-old construction toys in Calais, is set to close by 2024, its owner, the Canadian group Spin Master, announced. - AFP

By AFP

Published: Fri 24 Feb 2023, 2:52 PM

The owners of the world's last dedicated Meccano toy factory have said it will close by next year after more than half a century in France because of rising costs.

Spin Master said Wednesday the factory's falling competitiveness left it with "no other choice" but to close it down by the first quarter of 2024.

Production at the site, in Calais on the English Channel coast, had been affected by difficult market conditions, made worse by recent increases in the cost of raw materials and energy, it said.

Meccano is a model construction system invented by Briton Frank Hornby in Liverpool at the end of the 19th century, and generations of children have built mechanical devices using the kits.

The Calais Meccano factory opened in 1959 and was taken over by Spin Master in 2014.

Boxes with the games by model construction system Meccano storing at its factory in Calais. Production at the site had been affected by difficult market conditions, made worse by recent increases in the cost of raw materials and energy. - AFP
Boxes with the games by model construction system Meccano storing at its factory in Calais. Production at the site had been affected by difficult market conditions, made worse by recent increases in the cost of raw materials and energy. - AFP

The French site is the last factory owned and run by Spin Master for Meccano toys, but the company has also outsourced Meccano production to toy makers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

Spin Master said it would keep ownership of the brand, and "rethink" its further development.

An investment of seven million euros ($7.4 million) since 2014 had been insufficient to turn the Calais operation around, it said, saying negotiations had begun with unions about the conditions for terminating the contracts for the 50 staff employed at the site.

Local politicians were furious at the decision, with Calais mayor Natacha Bouchart calling it "extremely brutal".

She told AFP that Spin Master's methods "were not decent in any way", and local authorities had been given no advance warning of the move.

Bouchart said with 2021 sales of "55 million euros in France and $2 billion worldwide" Spin Master "has the means to absorb higher energy costs".

The mayor said she wondered what the Canadian company's "true motivations" were, adding that there may still be time to find a buyer for the operation.

Staff are "completely devastated", union rep Jean-Francois Sandras said. "We never though they would close it down for good," he told AFP.


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