A NORTH-EAST vehicle rental firm, trusted by thousands of tradesmen across the UK, has increased profits as it benefits from rising demand.

Northgate Vehicle Hire, founded in Darlington, revealed underlying pre-tax profits were 22 per cent higher at £60.3m for the year to April 30.

Pre-tax profits stood at £51.2m, compared to previous £11.4m losses, with net debt down five per cent to £346.1m.

Loading article content

The company, which employs about 1,800 people across the UK and about 800 in the region, experienced strong demand across its UK rental division, with 4,500 more vehicles on hire in the period.

The figures included 1,800 vehicles from seven new sites opened across London and the South-East since February 2013.

Its Spanish rental operation, which is the market leader and benefits from holidaymakers’ demand in the summer months, also saw growth, with 2,600 more vehicles hired.

The results come after Northgate, which has its head offices in Lingfield Way, Darlington, last year announced plans to open at least 20 new branches across the UK.

Bob Mackenzie, chairman, said the results marked a resurgence after previous market difficulties.

He said: “As a result of the work done over recent years, the business has returned to growth in both the UK and Spain.

“We have seen increases in the number of vehicles on hire over the year, partly driven by the opening of new sites in the UK to increase customer coverage.

“There is good momentum in both businesses as a result of investment and changes to the commercial and operational teams and we remain committed to investing in future growth.”

The firm also has depots in Stockton, Wilton, near Redcar, North Shields and Blaydon, near Gateshead.

It started life as Noble Self Drive in 1981, when Alan Noble set up business from his Darlington home.

In 2010, it began the process of bringing its 22 separate businesses together under the Northgate brand, and regional offices were closed, resulting in a small number of job losses.

Two years ago, it created 150 jobs in Darlington when it centralised its customer support centre.