A YOUNG entrepreneur has expanded his vending machine empire after a national retailer answered his calls.

Joe Weston, from Crawley, began saving for his first vending machine three years ago when his father would pay him a few pounds to clean his car or help him with other small jobs.

Soon saving a substantial amount, the 12-year-old purchased a hot drinks unit, which generated enough profit for two further machines, which are in service at his father’s work yard.

With a firm base to build on, the young businessman began offering his refreshment services to other firms in the area, sending out flyers and chocolate bars – though received little interest, until renowned electrical retailer AO saw the potential in his idea.

The Argus: Joe with his newest machineJoe with his newest machine

After negotiations, Joe opened his newest vending machine at the AO warehouse in Crawley, with a second location also being discussed.

“My mates take the mick out of me but it’s good,” said Joe.

“I went around the industrial site with flyers when my dad was getting his MOT done, but none of the businesses came back to me, so I put an advert up on Facebook to give that a try, but it didn’t work the first time.

“I put it up a second time in the hope that it would work, and it did.”

Joe was encouraged to start saving by his father, Dan Weston, 43, from Shermanbury, West Sussex, who wanted to instill in his son an understanding of money from a young age.

The Argus: 12-year-old Joe replenishing his stock12-year-old Joe replenishing his stock

Since then, Joe has spent much of his time scouring the internet for second-hand machines to clean up and put back into service, with four now in operation.

He is also devising plans to open a car rental firm in future, but not after growing his snack business first.

“When AO got in touch, the two managers were really impressed,” said Dan.

“They gave him a location in their warehouse and that changed everything. They’ve offered him a second space two, and who knows after that.

“He’s gone from washing cars to selling in one of the UK’s largest white good companies.”