Grant will offer vital boost for KJN Automation

Precision engineering firm KJN Automation, based in Peckleton, Leicestershire, is the first company to secure a Business Growth Grant from the Business Gateway Growth Hub. This investment will enable it to become the UK’s first sole distributor of a lighter, more versatile product using carbon fibre. The company is one of the country’s leading suppliers of extruded aluminium profiles and accessories, servicing a wide range of industries including aerospace, motorsport and medical companies. Just before the coronavirus crisis, the business was about to launch its

new carbon fibre product. After a short period of being closed the company is open again, albeit in a staged manner, and hoping to get things moving.

‘Being able to access this grant to support a small business like ours enabled us to expand much faster than normal’

The Business Growth Grant of £19,000 contributed towards the purchase

of two mitre saws capable of cutting carbon fibre and aluminium profiles. Currently, KJN produces aluminium extrusion products that are used for modular systems, enclosures and desks. This new equipment will allow the company to produce new carbon fibre

products as well, which will be lighter and more adaptable in different environments. The new saws also allowed KJN to increase productivity on aluminium

profiles and reduce delivery times. Project consultant Richard Andrews said: “Like most businesses, we also

had to cease works during Covid-19, but hopefully having these saws already in place will allow us to get back up and running sooner than most.

Project consultant Richard Andrews and apprentice engineer Luke Nelsey with a newly-cut profile

“We are also looking to move into larger premises soon, so being able to

access this grant to support a small business like ours enabled us to expand much faster than normal.” Growth Hub manager Jon Egley said: “Businesses have needed more

support than ever during this difficult period. “It’s great to see KJN Automation back up and running and we’ll do

everything we can to support them and other local businesses as we slowly come out of this pandemic.”

Tutoring firm guided by Business Gateway

For a business that provides after- school tuition for children, keeping pupils at home due to Covid-19 could have spelled ruin. But Spark Academy found a way

to survive – and prosper – by diverting online to continue educating youngsters outside the classroom as lockdown led to GCSE, A-level and SATs exams being cancelled. The Leicester company has been

supported throughout the challenging period by the Business Gateway Growth Hub to transform its offer to students and parents. Ex-science teacher Mital Thanki,

who founded the business in 2009, said: “Cancelling exams left many parents and their children naturally confused and worried about their futures, which meant that we had to step up and ensure that we were there to support them. “Normally, our service is

complementary to school learning. However, we found our students were relying on us quite heavily as some schools were not offering live online lessons. We also noticed more issues surrounding anxiety and lack of motivation with students.

24 “We decided to change our

offering and we provided more free academic lessons, as well as increasing the number of our well- being and holistic sessions.” Despite Mital’s revenue taking a

40% hit during lockdown, she had been monitoring the situation since February and planned a transition to online learning with support from the Business Gateway IT team to mitigate the Covid-19 impact. Part of the diversification

strategy involved a new online group tuition offer, which has helped the business grow nationally. Mital has been in touch with her

Business Gateway adviser Aruna Bhagwan and her advice on funding and other expertise has proved key during the crisis. Mital added: “Aruna’s insight is

pivotal and her proactive nature makes a small business owner like myself feel very supported. She provides an immense amount of

business network August/September 2020

expertise and helps me look at things from a different perspective.” Aruna said: “Spark Academy is concerned about its students and

this, together with continually monitoring the environment, will help it come through Covid-19 stronger than before.”

Business adviser Aruna Bhagwan (left) with Mital Thanki (Credit: Beth Walsh)

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