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New Anglia LEP defends £240,000 grant awarded to Zenos Cars

PUBLISHED: 14:57 19 January 2017 | UPDATED: 15:20 19 January 2017

A prototype of Zenos E10 at Wymondham. Photo: Bill Smith

A prototype of Zenos E10 at Wymondham. Photo: Bill Smith

Archant © 2014

The region’s local enterprise partnership has defended its decision to hand nearly a quarter of a million pounds to a Norfolk car manufacturer which has gone into administration.

Wymondham-based Zenos Cars called in administrators on Monday after a string of cancelled export orders before Christmas left the company short of funding, though it is hoped it can be sold as a going concern.

The sports car company was a recipient of a £240,000 grant from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership in 2014, which went towards a £1.2m project expected to create high-skilled engineering jobs in the county.

LEP managing director Chris Starkie said the grant had been made with the requirement for 24 jobs to be created – of which 20.5 had been created to date – but that Zenos Cars had suffered from unforeseen circumstances.

“The LEP will continue to support the company and administrators in their aim of finding a buyer to take on the business as a going concern,” he said.

“We assess all businesses to see if they have a realistic plan prior to our investment which minimises the risk of failure.

“However there are sometimes circumstances that cannot reasonably be predicted. In this case the company had a sound business plan, secured investment from a wide range of partners, but has been hit by an unfortunate set of circumstances.”

Zenos Cars were styled as “affordable fun” – sports cars which could be used on the road or track, with prices starting at less than £30,000.

Managing director Mark Edwards said the company had made “very good progress” in developing the next product in its strategy. It had been working on a new model, the E11, a fixed-roof coupé which would have been produced in higher volume.

Administrators from Begbies Traynor said they were keen to hear from parties interested in working with the business in future.

The fate of Zenos Cars’ workforce of at least 20 remains unclear after they were sent home when the company’s directors put the company into administration.

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