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Nuneaton-based Eskuta drives forward as e-cargo leader

5 November 2021
Ian McFarlane-Toms, Ian O’Connor, Jake O’Connor
Ian McFarlane-Toms, Ian O’Connor, Jake Ian McFarlane-Toms, Ian O’Connor, Jake O’Connor

Nuneaton-based Eskuta has become the UK’s market-leading e-cargo vehicle manufacturer and supplier – working with the likes of Domino’s and Just Eat – after receiving support.

Eskuta, which has recently expanded into a second unit at Warwickshire County Council’s Bermuda Park Innovation Centre, designs and manufactures electric bikes and scooters which have proved to be a hit with fast-food delivery firms.

The company, which employs 14 people, chalked up more than 2,500 orders last year and is on course for more after a series of new developments.

Eskuta, started by managing director Ian O’Connor in 2015, is now working with Booker – the company behind convenience stores such as Londis and Budgens to start supplying electric bikes for the delivery of groceries.

And such is the potential for growth for the firm it’s now exploring international opportunities with distributor deals signed in Dubai, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.

On top of that, the consumer market is set to take off after an agreement to sell Eskuta products through 24 Apple stores in the UK and Ireland.

The company has been on an upward curve since being introduced to University of Warwick Science Park’s Business Ready programme, where it was given advice and support by adviser Ian McFarlane-Toms.

Business Ready is a fully-funded programme that delivers customised support to tech-based organisations looking to grow and scale.

Managed by the highly experienced support team at the University of Warwick Science Park, together with a cohort of subject matter and sector specialist growth advisers, it is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Warwickshire County Council as part of the CW Business: Start, Grow & Scale Programme.

“I started the business after becoming disillusioned with the fashion industry and discovered e-bikes and e-scooters when I was over in China and believed there was the potential for a business here," said Ian O’Connor.

“It’s been hard work to get to where we are today and Ian (McFarlane-Toms) and Business Ready have been a huge help.

“I met him about two years ago and, at that time, I was just looking for grant funding to see if it could support our growth but he’s brought much more than that.

“He’s supportive of what we are trying to do and understands the direction we are trying to take. If we ever need anything, Ian just opens his contacts book and always knows the right people to speak to.

“He has also got a background as an accountant so has given us great financial advice and guidance. With Ian’s help, we’ve been able to bring in more stock and that means we can offer even better service to our customers.

“We’re growing and the possibilities of where we can go next are huge. We’re now the market leader for e-cargo vehicles, working with the likes of Just Eat, Domino’s, Papa Johns, Subway and Dixy Chicken.

“Grocery deliveries is another area of the market with huge potential, then there’s international and the consumer market too. We believe this has the potential to be a real success story for the area.”

Ian McFarlane-Toms said: “Eskuta had a great product and a massive potential marketplace when I first met them.

“The company just needed support on how best to finance its growth and with some of the fundamentals of growing a new business.

“It’s been great to be able to help them reach this point and there is so much opportunity for growth in a range of markets. Ian O’Connor has assembled a really great, hardworking team which shares his enthusiasm and passion, and it is an exciting time for the business.”

Cllr Kam Kaur, portfolio holder for economy and place at Warwickshire County Council which runs the business centres, added: “One of the many benefits for companies based in our buildings is that they are at the heart of a fantastically well-connected community.

“Our business support offer is delivered through colleagues at Warwickshire County Council and also a range of partner organisations such as Business Ready.

“As the Transforming Nuneaton programme gathers pace, I’m delighted to hear of businesses in that area prospering. Offering high-quality employment opportunities in the area is key to the programme and I hope that Eskuta’s is just one of many success stories in the area in the months to come.”

Peter Davison is deputy editor of The Business Magazine. He has spent his life in journalism – doing work experience in newsrooms in and around Bristol while still at school, and landing his first job on a local newspaper aged 19. By 28 he was the youngest newspaper editor in the country.

An early advocate of online news, he spent the first years of the 2000s telling his bosses that the internet posed both the biggest opportunity and greatest threat to the newspaper industry and the art of journalism. He was right on both counts.

Since 2006 he has enjoyed a career as a freelance journalist. He lives in rural Wiltshire with one wife, two children, and three cats.

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