A SHIPPING container businesses founded by a North- East entrepreneur is expanding to meet increased demand.

Parsons Containers, based in Sedgefield, County Durham, has doubled its container sales turnover in the past two years and increased its local workforce to 16 after successfully adapting to the challenges of the economic downturn.

Founded in 2000, Parsons Containers has two main divisions.

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It hires and sells containers and also offers selfstorage under the brand of U Hold The Key, operating on nine sites, eight in this region and one in Grantham, generating a turnover of £1.5m.

To support the firm’s growth ambitions, Stephen Collins, who has been with the business since he left school ten years ago, is being promoted to container sales manager.

A third division of Parsons is online sales business Container Container, created in 2007.

Parent company Parsons Containers was founded by local entrepreneur Ean Parsons as a container hire business, but a high demand for the U Hold The Key business took the company towards the self-storage market.

As the economy dipped during the recession, Parsons adapted the business and container sales emerged as the driving force for the firm.

It continues to perform well and has been strengthened by the recent recruitment of Louise Coleman as hire controller.

Mr Parsons said: “Every February, between 2000 and 2007, people would start moving house and demand for container self-storage would go up. When the usual peak of business didn’t happen in 2008, we knew that there was something seriously amiss in the economy.

“I’m very proud of the way we were able to adapt our business to trade through the recession and, in the process, build a very successful container sales division.

“At the same time, we continued to develop U Hold The Key and we now have a very strong foundation in the North-East, with sites in Tyne and Wear, County Durham and Teesside.

“We’re now starting to see a new upturn in the demand for self storage. With the great platform that we already have and by boosting our workforce, our aim is to grow back into the container hire market and match the growth we have experienced in sales and self-storage.

Mr Parsons, who began his career in the Merchant Navy, has been working in the container industry for more than 30 years. He is a well-known figure in the North-East grassroots sports community.

Mr Parsons founded Sedgefield Harriers in 2005 and is chairman of the Sedgefield Village Games, an organisation that supports and promotes sport in the town.

In addition, he is heading a campaign to build a new athletics track and field events facility in Sedgefield.