Inspiring Business by Sharing Success

From frozen food truck to £5m business hub - with more to come

From frozen food truck to £5m business hub - with more to come

Ocean King is expanding from its modest 5,000 square foot base to a new £5m state-of-the-art business hub - but there’s more still to come.

  • Ocean King is expanding from modest warehouse in Loughborough to new purpose-built base in Derby
  • MD says support of LLEP Business Gateway Growth Hub has been driving factor behind success
  • Ambitious growth includes plans to increase from 30 employees to 150 over next three years

“We’ve worked really hard for this, and we’re not done yet,” explains Steven Thai, Managing Director at the Asian restaurant wholesaler. 

The firm’s latest growth project is to extend into a 32,000 square foot base, from which the company will operate offices and a warehouse.

But there’s far more to the new Derby building than that. 

Nap pods, a language school, shared professional services spaces, a wellbeing cafe, business hub, trade and public counters, solar panels, and slick design all round are a far cry from the single frozen food truck with which Steven and his dad started the business 26 years ago. 

“It’s hard to imagine that this will be our base,” he adds. “We’re so excited about it.

“We won’t stop at this one. Our growth strategy sees us opening more bases like this over the next decade.”

Ocean King has been expanding over the last quarter-century - and Steven said it has received invaluable support along the way from the Business Gateway Growth Hub. 

The Growth Hub is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and provides free and impartial support for business growth in Leicester and Leicestershire. 

It is delivered in partnership with Leicester City Council, Leicestershire County Council, East Midlands Chamber (Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire) and the Leicester and Leicestershire Enterprise Partnership Limited (LLEP). 

“With this project and with the business in general we have received support from the Growth Hub,” explains Steven, whose business launched in Loughborough and continues to have a site in the town.

“When it comes to the new base, they have signposted us to contacts in the field of environmental sustainability and other areas of potential funding.

 “The team is always on hand to offer advice, ask challenging questions, and make suggestions. It’s always good to have an extra opinion on these things.”

Ongoing development work is not limited to infrastructure changes.

Steven and his team also have ambitious plans to grow the Ocean King workforce from 30 full-time employees to 150 over the next three years.

Digital Growth Programme support helped the firm with its digital growth and a grant helped to finance software bringing sales, warehouse, and logistics on to one operating system. 

While the current ERDF funding ends in June, support from the Business Gateway Growth Hub will remain.

“Their support and signposting makes a huge difference,” said Steven. "We’re looking forward to completing this move and then planning the next phase with the Growth Hub’s help."

Most available tickets are already reserved for a special event hosted by the Business Gateway Growth Hub on June 23. The event, in central Leicester, will celebrate local business success and feature several special guests. Register at

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