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