11.01.2024 Press conference 2024

At the annual press conference, the management of the Sonneberg model railway manufacturer PIKO reported to the press representatives present on the sales development of the past year and gave an outlook on the planning for the 2024 financial year.

1.   Sales development 2023

PIKO owner Dr René F. Wilfer reported on an eventful and challenging 2023.

After the long-established company had already recorded weaker sales growth than expected in 2022 due to global economic developments, this trend continued in 2023. PIKO cited the ongoing challenges posed by price increases, rising energy costs and the continuing uncertainty among the population with regard to the future as the reason for this. The latter in particular has resulted in a noticeable reluctance among people to buy non-essential products, including model trains.

Nevertheless, the company is not dissatisfied with the sales trend in 2023 either, as it closed slightly above the previous year's level and at +34% above 2019, the pre-coronavirus year, which is now seen by many as a reference point in terms of overcoming the coronavirus crisis. Earnings are also satisfactory, even though they are significantly lower due to the considerable increase in labour costs - but there is still enough left over to finance the high investments in new products and develop further electronic gadgets.

Looking to the future, Dr René F. Wilfer remains confident and made a brief digression on the developments that have taken place at PIKO over the past two years.

The Sonneberg model railway manufacturer has set itself the goal of not only further developing PIKO as a brand, but also strengthening its position on the market.

In addition, PIKO should also become more attractive as an employer in order to sustainably maintain jobs in the toy town and create new ones. In addition to various measures focussing in particular on improving employee satisfaction, the company is also making various investments. For example, new office space was created in 2023 and existing areas were expanded and modernised. PIKO has also expanded its presence at training and careers fairs to recruit new employees and trainees. PIKO is also investing in the future and has expanded its training programme, which will include nine apprenticeships from 2024. The company's commitment in this area was also recognised by the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Southern Thuringia, which awarded the company the "Recognised Training Company" seal. PIKO sees the creation and maintenance of apprenticeships as both a responsibility towards young people and an investment in the future and therefore offers the opportunity to work for the company in the long term after successfully completing the training programme.

The new PIKO flagship store was also opened on the company premises in Sonneberg in 2023. After 1.5 years of construction, the new, modern flagship shop finally opened its doors to the public in May. Since then, the shop in the toy town has offered customers from near and far the opportunity to browse, marvel and shop. Together with the additional office space, the flagship store involved an investment volume of around €1.5 million.

After this brief insight into the internal developments at PIKO, PIKO Product and Marketing Manager Matthias Fröhlich went into more detail about the sales development of the Sonneberg model railway manufacturer.

Despite difficult conditions, PIKO managed to exceed the previous year's result by + 2.0% and thus only slightly missed the target by - 1%. As the toy market and the model railway sector tended to decline in 2023, PIKO was once again able to gain market share this year.

In Germany, and particularly in the German specialised trade, the largest and therefore most important sales channel, PIKO did not quite reach the high sales level of the previous year and therefore closed the year slightly below the target for 2023. In addition to the generally difficult conditions, postponements of delivery dates for high-selling new moulded products also contributed to the fact that the sales targets planned for Germany were not quite achieved.

The B2C segment, which has been served not only by the PIKO webshop but also by the new flagship store since May 2023, developed very well in the past year.

At +9.3%, PIKO's export sales were significantly higher than in 2022 and even exceeded the target by +1%. A very pleasing development, which has contributed to the fact that the export share of the Sonneberg model railway manufacturer has risen to 39%. Poland is the largest foreign market. Here, as in the Netherlands, Austria, Belgium and Denmark, the market is serviced and supplied directly from Sonneberg.

But things also went well in Switzerland, the Czech Republic and Hungary, where PIKO works with importers in 2023. Hungary was able to secure the title of "PIKO Export Nation of the Year 2023" thanks to the corresponding growth rates compared to the plan and a significant increase on the previous year.

Although the development in 2023 also fell slightly short of expectations due to the difficult general conditions, PIKO is generally satisfied with the result. It shows that the company has a stable position on the market even in difficult times. At this point, PIKO Managing Director Dr Wilfer emphasised once again that PIKO does not want to rest on its laurels of the past few years, but is working on further strengthening its market position. The attractive new products in the four gauges H0, TT, N and garden railway, the very good price-performance ratio and the outstanding quality of the PIKO models make a significant contribution to this.

In recent years, PIKO has established itself as a reliable partner for specialist retailers and customers in the model railway market. A central element of this partnership is a good and stable supply of goods. After this could not always be guaranteed in 2022 due to delays and long container transit times, the situation stabilised further in 2023.

2.   Anniversary year 2024

Before turning his attention to the presentation of new products for the current financial year, Dr René F. Wilfer talked about two highlights of the year: In 2024, the "Open Day" at PIKO will once again take place on 22 June. PIKO and model railway fans from near and far come together for this event, which takes place every two years, to spend a great day at PIKO, talk to each other and pick up a bargain or two. The "Open Day" will be held under a special motto. PIKO will be 75 years old in 2024 and this anniversary will be celebrated in style. In addition to selected special models in all track sizes, an updated chronicle will also be published to mark the occasion, describing the journey from "pioneer construction" to the present day.

3.  New product preview and planning 2024

Of course, PIKO also has a particularly attractive programme of new products in store in its 75th year. It was therefore a special pleasure for PIKO owner Dr René Wilfer, together with Mr Matthias Fröhlich, to give the guests present an insight into the model programme for 2024, which is traditionally published at the beginning of the year. This includes over 450 new products in the four gauges (H0, TT, N, G) and is therefore once again very extensive this year.

Garden railway enthusiasts (scale 1:22.5) can once again look forward to new additions to the steam traction range. With the Prussian T 9.3, the later BR 91, PIKO presents perhaps one of the most important German branch line tender locomotives. The compact engine is suitable for use in front of both short passenger and goods trains and, like all PIKO steam locomotives, impresses with its numerous attached lines and details. The model is perfectly equipped for use on the garden railway and has a pulsed vaporiser and cylinder steam in the sound version.

PIKO also has a special model in store for fans of modern trains: Following the Railjet driving trailer last year, a modernised intercity driving trailer will follow in 2024. This will not only be painted and printed true to the original, but will of course also take into account the structural features of the prototype. With this beautifully designed model, the garden railway Intercitys will also be able to make their rounds in pushed sets in future.

In the H0 range (scale 1:87), the strongest-selling and most extensive segment within the PIKO portfolio, a large number of interesting new products will once again be appearing in the Expert, Expert Plus, Classicnostalgie and Hobby product lines. Some of the highlights for the domestic and foreign markets were discussed in more detail at the press conference.

PIKO is presenting another steam locomotive, the class 62, as its main innovation in H0. This follows on seamlessly from the BR 03 released in the previous year and, like the latter, is available both as an Expert and as an Expert Plus model, each as a version of the German Federal Railway and the German Reichsbahn. The digital versions of the Expert product line feature various lighting functions in the driver's cab, the firebox and in the running gear area as well as prototypical sound and a factory-integrated vaporiser. The Expert Plus versions provide even more playing fun with the digitally switchable couplings and the factory-fitted pulsed vaporiser.

How could it be otherwise, fans of nostalgic old electric locomotives will also get their money's worth again in 2024. With the pre-series locomotive 144 001 from the Deutsche Bundesbahn, a special highlight of the E 44 series is rolling into the PIKO Expert range. DR layout owners can also rejoice: The successful locomotive also appears as an Era III model of the Deutsche Reichsbahn, whereby the special features of the prototype locomotive have been perfectly transferred to the 1:87 scale.

From historical railway models to the more recent past: Back in December, PIKO surprisingly announced a special new product developed in cooperation with its Göppingen-based competitor Märklin - the Metropolitan Express Train (MET). Having already realised joint projects between the two model railway manufacturers in the past, the MET represents the first cooperation in the development of a completely new model. The AC version of this eight-car luxury train will appear in the Märklin range in 2024, while PIKO will present the DC version.

With the dual-power locomotive of the Vectron Dual Mode from Siemens and the DE 18 from Vossloh Rolling Stock GmbH, PIKO is also presenting two modern locomotives as completely new designs. The Vectron Dual Mode is another special highlight of the new items programme. It appears in both the BR 249 and 248 versions in the Expert product line. In addition, the class 249 will also be available as an Expert Plus model, whereby the locomotive is equipped with a pulsed vaporiser and - for the first time at PIKO - with a pantograph that can be raised and lowered digitally.

In the international sector, two completely new electric locomotives, the Dutch Rh 1000 and the Polish EP09, will appear in 2024. For the French market, the Midi electric locomotive will be added to the PIKO Expert range in two versions.

The Expert freight wagons will also grow in 2024: from this year, the well-known telescopic hood wagons will be available from PIKO. This widely used wagon type will appear directly in five country-specific variants.

The Classicnostalgie and Hobby ranges impress with numerous colour and lettering variants of well-known model series and wagons, including the DB AG BR 189 in black livery (Hobby) or the five-part double-decker articulated train of the Deutsche Reichsbahn in prototypical Era III livery and printing (Classicnostalgie).

TT railway enthusiasts (scale 1:120) were already surprised with a special model at the Modell - Hobby - Spiel in Leipzig: The Czech electric locomotive S499.02, presented in 2023 as an H0 model, also appeared as a completely new design in 1:120 scale. The enthusiasm of TT railway enthusiasts for this double novelty in both track sizes prompted PIKO to realise another H0 novelty in 2024 in the middle gauge as well: The BR 62 of the Deutsche Reichsbahn. The perfectly shaped model reproduces all the details of the prototype true to scale. In the version equipped with a PIKO SmartDecoder XP, various vehicle sounds, the harmonious lighting in the driver's cab and a red flickering LED in the area of the firebox ensure great playing fun. The numerous other new products in the TT range include the shape variants of the Czech S499.01 of the ČSD in Era IV and the BR 93 of the Deutsche Reichsbahn in Era III.

In the PIKO N range (scale 1:160), two new moulds are appearing, which together create a harmonious overall picture. The BR E 32 vintage electric locomotive is the first of the traction units. The detailed model with numerous separately applied parts and delicate metal pantographs impresses in the digital version with harmonious lighting in the driver's cabs and engine room. This cult locomotive first appears in the version of the Deutsche Bundebahn in Era III. PIKO also presents three pairs of prototypically coupled conversion carriages - also as completely new designs in DB livery and printing in Era III. The carriages are prepared for simple retrofitting of interior and end lighting and impress with their detailed interior design, numerous separately mounted parts and excellent rolling characteristics. The model railway manufacturer also offers a wide range of new products in its smallest gauge size, including the IC coaches in DB intercity product colours, the Rh 2000 diesel locomotive from NS and the BR 118 electric locomotive in blue livery, which were released last year.

After PIKO presented a new digital system for wireless layout control last year with the PIKO SmartControlwlan, a matching booster will be available in 2024. This can be used to increase the performance of the digital control system, making it possible to control larger layouts with more vehicles. Anyone who purchased one of the new, attractive PIKO SmartControlwlan starter sets in 2023 now also has the option of upgrading the performance of the digital control system to that of the full version.

Due to PIKO's good positioning in the trade, the extensive and attractive new products for the various markets and track sizes and taking into account the difficult conditions that will continue in 2023, a moderate increase in sales of + 4.9 % is expected for 2024 compared to 2023.

With planned growth of +8.3%, the domestic segment is expected to develop somewhat more strongly than export sales.

Sonneberg, 12 January 2023

Dr. René F. Wilfer


PIKO owner, Dr René F. Wilfer, presents the sample of the H0 Expert "Dual Mode" diesel/e-locomotive. One of over 500 PIKO innovations in 2024.

Further impressions can be found here:


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