Following the closure of the site in France, Spin Master says Meccano will continue to be produced by a network of partners in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
The last dedicated Meccano factory in the world is being closed. Located in Calais, France, Spin Master says the facility will close at the beginning of 2024, with the loss of 51 roles. The company blamed increases in the cost of raw materials and “a lack of competitiveness” for the closure. Spin Master has owned the Meccano brand since 2013.
The Canadian company said Meccano toys would continue to be produced by a network of partners in Europe, Asia and Latin America.
“After having studied all the possible alternatives, we have no other choice than to envisage the end of industrial activity at the Calais plant by the first quarter of 2024,” reads a statement, which added that the factory had never managed to break even, in spite of receiving €7m (£6.1m) in investment since 2014.
Natacha Bouchart, the mayor of Calais, said Spin Master had not indicated it had any problems, and the decision seems to have come as a shock to the local community and the factory’s workforce.
“We don’t know what the group’s real intentions are,” commented the mayor, speaking to Agence France-Presse. “This company did €55m worth of business in France in 2021 and $2bn worldwide. It has the means to finance higher energy costs.”
A job safeguard plan is expected to be unveiled next March. Spin Master’s statement added: “Management’s objective is now to provide individual support to each of the 50 employees concerned. It will soon engage in negotiations with the social partners to define the terms of a job protection plan promoting a quick return to employment. Finally, it will naturally remain open to all proposals from a possible buyer.”
Meccano was invented in Britain in 1898 by Frank Hornby, who marketed it as Mechanics Made Easy in 1901 and Meccano in 1907. The range became popular, bcoming the largest toy manufacturer in the UK by the 1930s. The first French Meccano factory opened in Paris in 1921. Today, the kits are available in 80 countries, containing the same strips, screws and hole spacing in imperial measures (inches and not centimetres) as the 1901 originals, and have more recently been used to encourage STEM activities, both in schools and at home.