A booming Peterborough business specialising in electronic cigarettes is looking to expand after proving to be a recession-beating success.
Electronic Cigarettes Ltd is set to leave its current home in Culley Court, Orton Southgate, where it occupies four units totalling about 2,500 sq ft, for a new 10,000 sq ft premises in Fengate this weekend.
The business began life as little more than a side project for its founders, who at that time had full-time jobs elsewhere.
It operated out of a small unit in Culley Court, based on an initial £1,000 investment, and employed just one person.
A little over a year later, however, it has spread to four units at the same complex, which it has long since outgrown, employs 13 people and is forecasting an annual turnover of an incredible £2.5 million.
Aaron Taylor (28), from Yaxley, who together with Oliver Warburton (30), also from Yaxley, and Ben Potter (21), from Hampton, is a director at the firm, said: “It’s unbelievable, really. You have to pinch yourself from time-to-time.”
Electronic cigarettes are a battery-powered alternative to tobacco-based products.
The gadgets vapourise a liquid in an atomiser, which is then inhaled and exhaled as a water vapour.
Nicotene levels can be varied, with some liquids containing no nicotene at all.
Electronic Cigarettes Ltd imports the hardware, assembles the components, mixes the liquids and sells a range of products across Europe.
It is currently shipping about 500 orders a day to countries such as Finland, Germany, Portugal, Denmark, Italy, Greece and Cyprus, with about 40 per cent of its trade coming from outside the UK.
Mr Taylor described it as a boon for the economy, locally and nationally.
He said: “It’s definitely something that is really positive, especially when a lot of businesses are not necessarily struggling, but are also not growing.”
Mr Taylor said the firm had been unable to pinpoint the cause of the firm’s growth, but put it down in part to increased exposure for the product.
The appeal of the electronic cigarette, he said, is that it can be smoked in indoor public places, works out significantly cheaper than its tobacco-based counterpart, and is also free of smoke and tar.
To add variety for those looking to kick the habit, more than 200 flavours are available, ranging from tobacco and menthol to fruit-based flavours, French tarts, gummy bears, cream soda, cherry cola and tiramisu.
Clients in Finland even requested salt liquorice as a flavour, going to the trouble of posting a batch of the sweet to the firm to help it replicate the taste.
Mr Taylor said: “A lot of our customers when they first come to us say they want tobacco flavour, but after about a week or two, when their taste buds start to come back to life, they realise they don’t actually enjoy the taste of cigarettes and move onto, normally, the fruit flavours.”
Chairman of Peterborough Chamber of Commerce Iain Crighton said he was “absolutely delighted” with the firm’s success.
He said: “It’s not a product I have come across before, but then again I have never been a smoker. It’s fantastic news they have grown so quickly and so strongly and I’m delighted they are choosing to stay in Peterborough.”