TWO brothers from Manchester are aiming to achieve lift-off with a new business venture after they launched the UK’s largest inflatable theme park in Birmingham.
Navnit and Harshad Sanghani have owned and run convenience stores for nearly two decades.
But their ambition for new opportunities has led to them becoming the first to take up a franchise with the popular Inflata Nation brand, which has already proved a smash hit in Manchester and Runcorn.
The siblings debuted the new attraction in Stetchford, three miles east of the city centre, this weekend.
And they even got the thumbs-up from pop star and Loose Women panellist Jamelia, who had an exclusive chance to try out the inflatables at a VIP launch last week.
The Midland celeb, who grew up just a few miles away in Hockley and brought her three daughters to the launch, said: “I have raced everyone on the assault course and lost every time, but it’s the taking part that counts and I’ve had a fantastic time."
Navnit, 44, revealed how they had been looking at an indoor leisure business for a few years and initially set their sights on a trampoline park.
But when they carried out their research they discovered the market was already crowded – and that’s where Inflata Nation came in.
“We’ve been looking at launching something new for a while,” he said. “Our focus was mainly on trampoline centres but it was too costly for us and the locations didn’t work out.
“Then last year, when Infata Nation opened in Manchester, we saw they had transformed their former trampoline sites into inflatable theme parks and it was something totally new."
The brothers went as far as contacting manufacturers who pointed them in the direction of Matt and Michelle Ball, the husband and wife team behind the Inflata Nation brand.
“It’s a unique business idea,” said Harshad, 42. “We were told Matt and Michelle were looking for franchise opportunities and we got in touch with them.
“Thankfully we hit it off straight away and the relationship has grown from there.
“We know that they are at the end of the phone to give us guidance and advice if we need it. That’s so helpful when you are going into a new business.”
The brothers were born in India but moved to Kenya as children, where their father set up a construction business.
As young adults they relocated to London to raise families, and headed north to Manchester around the turn to the Millennium when they bought a convenience store in the north of the city.
Their retail empire grew to three outlets, although that number has now reduced.
Navnit insists running the shops has given them vast customer service experience which they see as vital to making the new Inflata Nation a success in the West Midlands.
“It’s key in any business,” he said. “We ran the shops ourselves and so any problems, we were tackling them. That has helped us a lot.
“Obviously Inflata Nation is a totally different business but customer service is always the same: how you speak to the people, how you greet them, making them welcome, how you tackle the problems that can arise.
“We are lucky we have that experience.”
Inflata Nation Birmingham replaces a former children’s soft play centre, but the majority of staff have been retained.
“That’s important,” said Harshad. “They already know the customers who are coming in and have that local knowledge.”
The new arena will boast many of the attractions already seen and enjoyed in Manchester and Cheshire – huge drop slides, a giant ball pool and dual-lane assault course.
But there are also some new treats in store such as a giant wrecking ball game and Inflata Grab, a human version of childhood favourite board game Hungry Hippos.
Navnit said: “There’s a gap in the market. This is a thing that the whole family can enjoy – it truly is for all ages.
“In trampoline parks, when the kids are playing the parents are just watching from the sidelines.
“With the inflatables, when the parents come with the kids they can enjoy themselves as well.”
* One-hour bounce sessions at Inflata Nation Birmingham cost £5.95 for under fours and £9.95 for four years and above.
Additional hours are priced at £3 and £7 respectively.
For further information and to book visit the website www.inflatanation.com
"We saw Infata Nation had transformed their former trampoline sites into inflatable theme parks and it was something totally new."
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