AN engine re-powering business has won a six-figure investment to help fund its ambitious plans for expansion.
Smiles Engineering North East, which reconditions and repowers engines, received the funding via NEL Fund Managers from the Finance For Business North East Growth Fund that it administers.
Smiles works with leading transport industry names to re-engineer buses’ existing power systems so that the entire bus does not have to be replaced. Initial data from a vehicle being used by Stagecoach Scotland East showed the new system had doubled the amount of miles per gallon that it was previously able to achieve.
The Newcastle-based firm will use the investment to buy a range of equipment, including vehicle lifters and an oil life analysis machine, plus software and take on new staff.
Gordon Mockett, who runs the business, said: “Modern buses are obviously very expensive to buy, as is the fuel that they use, and the new engine integration system we’ve developed not only provides operators with an option for extending their vehicles’ lives, but for substantially reducing their fuel bills in the process.
“We’ve had a lot of interest in the system from other bus operators, and believe that there are significant commercial opportunities for us to build on, both here and eventually overseas, which we think will enable us to grow the business significantly over the next few years.
“When we started looking for outside investment, we invited NEL to take a look at the business and got a very positive response from them.
“Bringing the capital in was a thorough but swift process, and it will make a real difference to the speed at which we can implement our development plans.”
Smiles has tripled its turnover in the last two years, and the management is now aiming to make it a multi-million- pound turnover business within the next five years.
Simon Johnson, senior investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, said: “Smiles’s manufacturing expertise and technological focus combine to make a very powerful commercial offering, and their ambition to make the maximum they can of it is very worthy of investment support.”