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15 August, 2006 - 15:26 By Staff Reporter

Entrepreneur eyes China after a successful MBI

An East of England electronics entrepreneur is eyeing expansion in China having recently led an MBI.

Nicola Kay, who founded custom electronic manufacturer, Prosol Electronics in St Ives, plans worldwide expansion having headed up the buy-out of St Albans-based Camden Electronics earlier this year.

The new shareholding management team, which is understood to have bought the business for £4.5m, also includes Ian Alexander as sales director and Ryan Wilkinson as financial director.

Camden is a manufacturer and supplier of PCB terminal blocks, fuses & fuseholders, sealed lead acid batteries, LEDs, miniature switches, interface modules and enclosures for the electronics, telecommunications, lighting and electrical industries.

Kay has recently returned from a trip to China, brokered by Cambridge University’s Institute for Manufacturing, during which, she held detailed discussions with senior members of the Shanghai Pudong government about establishing a new operation in the province.

The company already has one base in Southern China, but sees the market as an opportunity rather than a threat and is seeking to expand its already strong customer base there.

Kay said: “We already have around 20 direct customers in China, but we are keen to grow that in coming months.

“With such a lot of electronics manufacturing going to China, the key to success is to have your components specified, then customers effectively have to use your product. ”

The UK market currently accounts for 70 per cent of the company’s £3m turnover, but international growth has been mooted with the new management team, with the US another of Camden’s near-term target markets.

Kay said she intends to capitalise on the potential of the Camden brand: “Camden is a well known and well established brand with a significant share of the UK market for PCB terminal blocks.

“There is huge potential for increasing market penetration of these and our other product lines on an international basis through the development of a worldwide OEM and distribution customer base.

“Exports already represent around 30 per cent of our turnover but I believe we can increase this significantly in a relatively short space of time.

“Camden’s new senior management team will be strengthening alliances with our suppliers and distributors to reinvigorate the business.

“Our strategy includes expansion of the field sales team, capitalising on our extensive market knowledge, and provision of enhanced technical support and engineering services.”

As part of the deal, the new management team also acquired the freehold of Camden’s 20,000 sq ft factory in St Albans. While there are no plans to expand its physical operations at the moment, Kay said she was in the process of expanding the workforce by a modest amount.

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