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Theme park company on the up in Barnsley

A Barnsley company which makes installations for most of the UK’s theme parks has moved into new, bigger premises to keep up with demand.

Themesparx moved into Fall Bank Industrial Estate at Dodworth in August 2013 just months after setting up, but has now relocated to a new building more than three times the size on the same estate.

The company supplies sets, sculptures, moving characters and special effects for theme parks including Alton Towers, Legoland, Chessington World of Adventure and Blackpool Pleasure Beach.

Matthew Kitchen-Dunn, who owns the business with his wife Jane, said: “We realised almost as soon as we moved into the first unit that we would soon outgrow it with the amount of work we were getting in, but luckily we found somewhere almost next door that was big enough at 12,000 square feet.”

Themesparx designs and makes the products from concept through to installation, and has received business support from Barnsley Council’s Enterprising Barnsley programme.

The company specialises in making animatronics or models – of everything from Postman Pat’s van and In the Night Garden characters to trees and rocks – that move. And, as well as creating special effects and sets, Themesparx are working with another company on ‘video mapping’ or projecting moving images onto walls.

“The only thing that limits what we can do is your imagination,” said Matthew. “We have built a six metre long dog, an eight-metre long animatronic scorpion and an animatronic tractor.”

Matthew has years of experience in the field, having worked for 28 years in the family business in Huddersfield, which started by supplying Christmas decorations and Santa’s grottos to shopping malls, then moved into theme park rides.

He broke away to set up Themesparx in May 2013. When the company moved to Fall Bank in August 2013 it employed six. There are now nine staff, with plans to increase that to 15.

Turnover is in the region of £1m, with a projected increase of 30 per cent in the next year.

The company has just supplied a theme park in Norway and is looking to export to other countries, including Russia and China.

Enterprising Barnsley has given the company business support including help with a new website, marketing and HR matters.

“They have been absolutely great. We wouldn’t be where we are now if it wasn’t for Enterprising Barnsley. If we have any problems they will sort it for us,” said Matthew.

Enterprising Barnsley, offers a wide range of free business support to small and medium-sized businesses with growth potential.

The programme is supported financially by the European Union and has attracted £2,259,511 investment from the European Regional Development Fund as part of Europe’s support for the region’s economic development, through the Yorkshire and Humber ERDF Programme.

John Heckingbottom, from Enterprising Barnsley, said: “They are a great company to work with, with fun products. But on a more serious note our role is just to make it as easy as possible for business to thrive in Barnsley.

“Often people have great ideas and experience, but they need help with all those little things that make running a business a bit easier.”

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Jane and Matthew Kitchen-Dunn

 

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