As news broke yesterday that Britain’s unemployment rate had dropped to 7.1%, the Gateshead-based Vertu Motors plc announced it had created over 100 new jobs in the region over the past year.
The fast-growing firm revealed it opened up 103 new posts during the period, through which it contributed nearly £3m to the North East economy.
Growth has been continuous at Vertu since the company’s inception in 2006, with regional employee numbers rising from 167 to 753.
Now the sixth largest motor retailer in the country, the firm acquired 32 dealerships and opened another two last year, bringing its total number to 104 and making it both the largest Honda and Hyundai retailer in the UK, as well as the country’s third largest Ford dealer.
Among those to benefit from the recent expansion was James Collingwood, a trained bricklayer from Wheatley Hill in County Durham who had been unemployed for three years when he appeared on a television debate to discuss North East unemployment alongside Vertu chief executive Robert Forrester.
After speaking with him, Forrester took his telephone number and offered him a job interview, resulting in Collingwood securing a position as a trainee sales executive at Bristol Street Motors Sunderland Vauxhall.
Collingwood had sent out more than 200 CVs before gaining the position.
Forrester said: “It is clear the UK economy is on the up, with the motor retail industry leading the way for some time now. It is very rewarding and pleasing to create jobs and growth and see the direct affect this has on people’s lives and on the wider economy.
“When I met James two years ago, I was surprised when he told me he was unemployed, as he was extremely polite and personable. His enthusiasm and determination in looking for a job really came across and I was impressed with his confidence and integrity. Although he had no experience in the motor industry, the personal qualities he demonstrated were what we look for in an employee.
“James is going from strength to strength. He has completed his training and is a very valued member of the team.
“His clear determination in finding a job and the way he made his own luck by pursuing every available opportunity to find work were what initially made me want to employ him and I believe these traits will serve James well throughout his career.”
Collingwood added: “Two years ago, I was unemployed, frustrated and faced with a lot of closed doors. After sending off more than 200 CVs and numerous application forms, I was starting to feel like I would never get a job, but I refused to give up and just kept on going.
“My life has completely transformed.”
The news comes after a period of continuous strong trading for Vertu, which, in 2013, announced a “buy and build strategy” executed over seven years had led to record half-year results.
For the six months ended August 2013, turnover increased by 33.3% to £837.2m while pre-tax profits rose by 69% to £8.6m.