Baby bottle maker yoomi moves to Dartford creating jobs

A manufacturer of a baby feeding bottle which warms milk in a minute has moved to Kent, creating four new jobs.

yoomi has set up shop in larger premises at the Old Ambulance Station in Dartford’s Questor Estate, where it will make its bottles with “warmer units” in the neck, which heat milk to room temperature at the push of a button.

The company decided to move from its former base in Woolwich to deal with a lack of storage space. It was using a warehouse near Heathrow to store its products, which only heat the milk the baby drinks.

Jim Shaikh has just moved his baby bottle manufacturer to Dartford from Woolwich
Jim Shaikh has just moved his baby bottle manufacturer to Dartford from Woolwich

Needing to combine production and warehousing on one site, founder Jim Shaikh applied for an interest-free loan through the Tiger regional growth fund scheme.

It awarded the business £200,000 to increase production capacity, boost its product range and hire a commercial manager and accounts controller.

Mr Shaikh, who founded in 2007, was then pointed to his new premises after a meeting with Locate in Kent, the agency which encourages companies to move to the county.

He said: “They helped us identify potential premises in the Tiger catchment area.

“The difficulty with Woolwich was that we had no on-site storage, so we were using warehousing near Heathrow and our warmer production capacity was also limited by the available space.

The yoomi bottle
The yoomi bottle

“As we grew, that became a real problem, both logistically and in terms of cost.

“[The new headquarters] is not your typical place. As the name suggests, it is a former ambulance station and had been scheduled for demolition.

“There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to it, but it’s four times the size of our former base in Woolwich and the floor plan works well with a manufacturing area and warehouse space.”

yoomi’s staff has risen from 11 to 15 since it moved to Dartford in November and more will be recruited, including in the warehouse.

“At the moment, 95% of our bottles are exported, with 80% of those going to Asia,” said Mr Shaikh, who was inspired to make his product after struggling to heat milk for his prematurely born son Daniel, who is now 12.

The yoomi bottle heats milk through feed warming channels around the teat
The yoomi bottle heats milk through feed warming channels around the teat

“My ambition for 2015 to 2016 is to make real progress into the domestic market, and I’m happy our new Dartford home gives us a great base to do that from.”

Locate in Kent chief executive Paul Wookey said: “Jim Shaikh had the vision to see just how the Old Ambulance Station could be made to work for his company and is breathing new life into it.

“Regeneration of an area doesn’t necessarily mean the old has to be swept away to be replaced by the new.

“Across Kent and Medway we have an enviable mix of older buildings which are full of character, and new, modern complexes offering a variety of configurations, ready for companies to move in and start trading.

“The key is finding the one that’s right for your business, which, with our help, is easy to do.”

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