A NORTH-EAST car dealership has created more than 100 new jobs across the region in the past year.

Since it was established in 2006, Gateshead based Vertu Motors PLC has become the sixth largest motor retailer in the country, employing 753 people in the North-East.

Vertu acquired 32 dealerships and opened another two in 2013, growing the company from 70 dealerships to 104 and becoming both the largest single Honda and Hyundai retailer in the UK, as well as the country’s third largest Ford dealer. Its workforce in this region rose by 103.

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The firm's ongoing recruitment drive has helped the likes of James Collingwood back into work.

The bricklayer from Wheatley Hill in County Durham, had been unemployed for three years when he appeared on a television debate in 2012 to discuss North-East unemployment alongside Robert Forrester, chief executive of Vertu.

After speaking with the jobseeker, Mr Forrester took his telephone number and offered him an interview, resulting in Mr Collingwood securing a position as a trainee sales executive at Bristol Street Motors Sunderland Vauxhall.

Mr Forrester said: “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.

Mr Collingwood, said: “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. I’ve trained as a sales executive, a role which I really enjoy, and am now progressing with my career at Vertu. They’re a fantastic and supportive company to work for, with lots of opportunities for professional development.

"It just goes to show that when you stay determined and focused, opportunities will go your way. I simply cannot thank Robert enough for giving me a chance to get my foot on the career ladder.”