What's in a name? For this company it's quite obvious. When Lesney created their die-cast vehicles as miniature models it was decided to sell them in match box sized boxes, hence the name Matchbox. The name may still exist, but the method of marketing has been modernised, no longer in boxes, but blister packs.
They were founded by Leslie and Rodney Smith (hence the name Lesney and assisted greatly by co-founder Jack Odell (of Lledo). After 15 years of business, they were the biggest selling brand of die-cast miniature cars (1968) and things were going well. Unfortunately, by 1969 trouble was looming with the arrival of die-cast racing cars by Johnny Lightning. They were known to be the fastest cars on the market. Matchbox responded with low friction wheels. Things were doing well by the mid 70's and they were back on top. By the end of the 70's the business was facing financially difficulties and in 1982 they were bankrupt. The name and some equipment was sold to Universal Toys, with some Matchbox assets going to Jack Odell, who continued to market Matchbox as Yesteryear at Lledo. Matchbox now became Matchbox International Ltd. In the mid 80's the new company obtained Dinky, uniting two of the most successful die-cast miniature car brands. Manufacture was pulled from Britain and began in Hong Kong then China.
It was time for another sale in 1992, with Mattel buying out Universal. A few releases were made up until 2005, then stopped. Both Dinky and Matchbox have been left alone with no new releases since then.