A FAMILY-OWNED furniture firm has taken on apprentices as it continues to strengthen its future.

Barker and Stonehouse has welcomed three workers to its IT, administration and warehousing divisions, with one apprentice studying the art of French polishing.

Alex McKay, 18, is working in the company's Middlesbrough warehouse and learning French polishing from specialists Anthony Moody and Steve Davey.

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The firm has also added 16-year-old Samantha Oram to its head office team, who will work on customer orders and arrange deliveries, and 18-year-old Ellis Little to the IT department.

James Barker, managing director, said: “Many of our core staff have been with us for a long time, building up a great bank of knowledge and expertise.

“The apprenticeship scheme enables our staff to pass this knowledge on to the next generation of workers, something of great value to us, while giving young people the skills and opportunities they need when starting out in their career.”

The company is also looking to take on another four young workers this year at its warehouses in Eggborough, North Yorkshire, and Blaydon, near Gateshead, and at its customer service and sales teams in Middlesbrough.

The firm was founded in Stockton in 1946 and employs 115 workers in Teesside and more than 320 staff across the UK.