Jouef model railways at HO scale

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Jouef HO scale model trains - Jouef compagny history

Jouef compagny history

The firm Le Jouet Français was created in 1944 by Georges Huard who manufactured plastic kitchen utensils. It also exists some penny toys which includes cars, boats and playsets of horses. Before 1949, a first railcar, the famous Transsaharian Algiers-Tombouctou appeared, made with lithographed sheet metal. The very first models were fitted with a rubber band as engine. The reduction scale was HO (ratio of reduction 1/87th), whereas the majority of the other model trains makers produced mainly on the O scale (ratio of reduction 1/43th). About 1950, Le Jouet Français or JF becomes Jouef. Since 1952, a complete range is proposed including tracks made of lithographed sheet metal (red then then gray), two passenger coaches with two axles (1st class in red, 2nd class in blue) also made of lithographed sheet metal, and a clockwork steam locomotive Diabolic evoking the careening locomotives of pre-2nd world war period. The transsaharian railcar is now fitted with the same clockwork mechanism used in the Diabolic steam locomotive. Next year, appear the first passenger coaches with bogies, a 1st class model and a 2nd class model pointing out the compemporary DEV cars of SNCF, and a Pullman car. 1954 is the start year for plastic injected models which allows low cost production of goods cars (a dropside wagon, an open goods wagon, a tank wagon and a covered wagon). 1955 is a milestone in the Jouef history: it is the kick-off of Jouef electric model trains, with the first electric locomotive, the BoBo 9003 SNCF HO scale model which was replaced very quickly by the BoBo 9004 SNCF after the full scale locomotive beat the world speed record on rails (331 km/h on March 29, 1955). These models were fitted with one bogie motorized with the famous and bulky motor large sausage (= large sausage. French nickname given for the shape of the engine). The power supply system (6 volts) used a battery generator hidden in a signal box or a transformer. The tracks was made with two brass rails fixed on plastic ballast. The lip of the Sud-Express electric train set was illustred by René Letourneur, and then electric model trains became popular in France with this trainset Sud-Express. Another important change in 1956, the tank-engine 0-4-0 n°708, first issued in clockwork version, started its long career of more than 40 years. More 2 millions models were manufactured. With the years, Jouef model trains become increasingly accurate, with the strict respect of the scale but the quality of operation of models is not always present. In addition of the electric model trains, Jouef also manufacture racing circuits. After having changed its owner in 1972, the Jouef company become integrated with Le Jouet Français group which includes also Delacoste (manufacturer of balloons and toys for first age), Solido (specialist in the miniature cars), and Heller (plastic models). This group went into liquidation in 1980 and rule of Court in May 1981. The different companies of the group Le Jouet Français are repurchased by various participants in the toy industry: Majorette buys Solido, Vullierme buys Delacoste, Borden buys Heller. Then remains Jouef which is then purchased by a subsidiary compagny of the CEJI group (French acronym of Compagnie Générale du Jouet). This subsidiary compagny named Joustra (French acronym of Jouet de Strasbourg) manufactures primarily radio-controlled toys, and the Jouef company is integrated within the CEJI group. At this time, Jouef adds an activity of import goods by marketing in France, white metal kits from the English brand Keyser. The white metal kits range includes French rolling stock models like the VH Renaultrailcar, several steam locomotives (2-8-2 TC, 4-6-0 G Paris-Orleans,...), and electric locomotives (BoBo 1200 Paris-Orlean, BoBo 16500 SNCF, 2D2 5500 SNCF). The last two models (electric locomotives BoBo 16500 SNCF and 2D2 5500 SNCF) had a white metal body and used a Jouef motorized frame. The bad reputation of these white metal kits in France, made that sales were stopped in March 1984. In early 1980, competition against video and electronic toys is hard, also the scale models market is speed loss. The CEJI group collapsed for bankruptcy in 1986. The Jouef activity is recovered by independent contractors including Jacques Barret, and then starts in a new policy of diversification for activities (miniature cars on the 1/43th and 1/18th scale, radiocontrolled cars) and a very agressive marketing with many links with other partners (Bachmann, Lilliput, Rivarossi, Ibertren, Lima). But it also collapsed one more time for bankruptcy in late 1995. The Jouef compagny is bought on 1996 by the Italian Rivarossi and is integrated in its group which also includes others model railway makers (Lima bought in 1992, Arnold bought in 1995, and Rivarossi). The production of Jouef models was still done in France. In the meantime, the Rivarossi Group (which includes Rivarossi, Lima, Jouef, Arnold and Pocher) became Lima Spa. June 1st, 2001 is a very dark day in the Jouef history: the Lima Spa group became Idee Commerciali II and they announced the final closure of the historical factory of Champagnole (France, in Jura), marking the end of the industrial manufacturing of scale model trains in France. The industrial tool is bring down, many moulds were sent to Italy, may be to the East further.
In 2002, Jouef is nothing more than one trade mark in the Lima Spa group dedicated to the low range models. Some old Jouef model trains are again marketed from end of 2002, with new registered numbers under the brands Lima and Rivarossi, according to the catalogue available at Lima France. At the beginning of 2003, a new marketing policy is put in place: the brand Jouef is condemned to disappear, only the word Jouef is appearing in the capital letter L of the new Lima logo. Unfortunately for the Idee Commerciali II group, this marketing policy is suicidal and it is not enough to think that the French market will agree to buy anything at any price when previous Jouef models were away for six months from the market. If you add a strong unjustified increase of the prices, models brought out which are not corresponding to the market expectations (the BoBo 13002 SNCF for example), the maintenance of the production equipment in Europe with high manufacturing costs, there are the principal causes of a main failure on the French market but also on the other European markets. By adding treasury weaknesses, the "Idee Commerciali II" group is put under the obligation to be placed in liquidation in July 2003. The losses are estimated around 1,4 million Euros per year, and the shareholders are in disagreement to set the compagny on its feet again. During this time period, the market still exists for the model train of the several brands of the group (Lima, Rivarossi, Arnold or Jouef) but the production has to be stopped because a company in liquidation cannot take new orders any more. Then, the market is free for the competitors. At the end of February 2004, the shareholders of Lima accept the preventive legal settlement which authorizes the sale of Lima to the English company Hornby PLC.
The Hornby PLC offers to purchase Lima for an amount of 8 million euros is accepted in October 2004 and definitively confirmed on December 16, 2004. Hornby wants to restart the production which will be delocalized in China, as well as the marketing of the Lima range models during the second half of 2005. For the French market, it is the MKD company, already in charge to import Hornby trains (Eurostar trainsets at 1/76 scale) and Scalextric racing circuits, which will be responsible to import and distribute all of the range of trains from the ex-group Lima. The brand name of Jouef will be used for the French re-issued rolling stock.

Original text written in May 14th, 2001.

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Hornby-Jouef HO scale model trains - Hornby-France compagny history

Hornby-France compagny history

Olivier Lanter (ancien directeur chez Delacoste), Martine Lanter (ancienne responsable marketing chez Jouef) avec la participation du maquettiste Alain Pras, fondent in 1982 la société MKD (Modèles Kits Diffusion). Ils vont développé une gamme d'accesoires and de maquettes ferroviaires à l'échelle HO. Avec le style typiquement français, ces maquettes sont très appréciées des amateurs. Au fil des années, MKD devient aussi l'importateur pour la France des marques Lima, Hornby, Rivarossi, Scalextric, Kato, LGB, Preiser and Busch. En 2006, le groupe anglais Hornby Plc rachète la société MKD pour former sa filiale française Hornby France. 2006 marque aussi le retour de Jouef avec des modèles de nouveau disponibles chez les détaillants. Quelques modèles dont la conception remonte à la période Jouef Champagnole sont commercialisés, la fabrication étant assurée per des sous-traitants chinois: parmi ces modèles, on retrouve la steam locomotive 2-8-2 P SNCF, les electric locomotives CC 6500 SNCF, BB 26000 SNCF and BB 36000 SNCF, les Diesel locomotives BB 66000/66400 SNCF and CC 72000 SNCF, les passenger coaches OCEM RA, les sleeping cars T2, les wagons plats multifret, les bogie tank wagons, les Bogie cereal hopper wagons à curved sides, and dans la gamme Junior Line l'railcar X 3800 SNCF Picasso and le Diesel shunter C 61000 SNCF. per la suite, ces modèles ont bénéficié d'une new tooling à l'exemple des les wagons céréaliers à curved sides. Avec le concours de Hornby France, des investissements sont réalisés per le groupe Hornby Plc pour produire de nouveaux modèles Jouef tels que les railcars X 73500 SNCF and X 72500 SNCF, les automotrices Z 24500 SNCF, les electric locomotives 2D2 5400 SNCF and 2D2 5500 SNCF or les locomotives à steam locomotive 2-8-2 R SNCF and 0-6-0 TU SNCF, and les wagons plats Remms.
Afin d'améliorer les résultats financiers et d'augmenter la rentabilité du groupe Hornby International, il a été décidé de mettre en place un plan de rationalisation des différentes filiales européennes en Allemagne, Espagne, Italie et France. Dès 2014, un outil de gestion commun est progressivement adopté par ces filiales. Le groupe en profite pour changer de nom : de Hornby International, on passe à Hornby Hobbies. Les résultats financiers n'étant pas au rendez-vous, un nouveau plan de mesures drastiques d'économie au niveau du groupe Hornby Hobbies est engagé en 2016 avec le rapatriement au United Kingdom des activités de dévéloppement et de service aprés-vente, ceci en tout indépendance avec la décision politique du Brexit. En parallèle, les différents stocks détenus par les filiales européennes sont expédiés en Angleterre où la gestion des stocks est assurée par un sous-traitant spécialisé dans la rotation rapide des stocks. En France, cela se traduit mi-206 par le déménagement de Hornby-France depuis son site historique de Magny les Hameaux vers Versailles de ses différentes activités puis la fermeture du SAV, l'arrêt de la cellule de développement et des services commerciaux, provoquant le licenciement de tout le personnel de Hornby-France fin 2016.

Updated text written in January 03rd, 2018.

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