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Northgate Vehicle Hire, based in Darlington, optimistic after increased leases
A VAN rental company, which keeps thousands of tradesmen on the road, says it will push on with major expansion plans after driving clear of recessionary worries.
Northgate Vehicle Hire saw increased demand for its vans, cars and minibuses over the summer, providing the catalyst for bosses to open depots and create hundreds of new jobs.
It says it is cautiously optimistic after vehicle hires increased from 43,100 in April to 44,700 in September.
The figures are 1,600 higher than the same period last year, and have been bolstered by Northgate's continuing growth, which will include new depots across London and the South-East.
The firm wants to open 20 depots in the next three years, including sites in Basildon, Essex, and Charlton, in south-east London, which are expected to open in December.
It employs about 1,800 people across the UK and about 800 in the region, and bosses were further buoyed after its Spanish rental division, which benefits from leasing cars to people for summer vacations, also saw increased rental figures.
Mark Hunt, Northgate group financial controller, said: “We are feeling a definite cautious optimism and starting to see some greens shoots of recovery.
“The economic recovery has helped, but our work to change our commercial sales operations has also been beneficial and we have been encouraged by the impact of that.
“The Spanish division has performed well against the backdrop of the country's economy, and we do a lot more car hire over there for the summer vacation market, which has helped.
“The expansion is going to plan with Basildon and Charlton, and we are now identifying more suitable properties to move into.”
The firm, which last year created 150 jobs in Darlington by centralising its customer support centre, 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.
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