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1North to recruit more staff in line with expansion

A COMPANY set up to help Scottish householders and businesses improve their energy efficiency through the Green Deal has hired 15 staff in less than a year of trading and hopes to add eight more in the next few months.

1North, based in Paisley, advises on items such as buying a new boiler, insulation or putting up a wind turbine. It can also install products.

The firm has already worked on a contract worth £3 million for British Gas, putting in boilers for people on low incomes.

Bill Gray, managing ­director, said 1North's order book of work was around £9.5m but he expected that to grow rapidly this year.

For instance the company is hopeful of securing work from the energy company obligation brokerage auctions, which run twice a month, and is also in talks with a number of housing associations.

Mr Gray said: "My wife and I founded the company on our own and had no employees at the beginning, but now we have 15 employees who are all experts in their field, and our business partners are some of the largest companies in the UK.

"We always knew our business model could succeed, but we are still surprised by the growth we have undergone in such a short period of time."

Mr Gray, who formerly ran an e-commerce business selling office supplies, said 1North was putting on roadshows across Scotland in the coming months to try to talk to more people about the Green Deal. He believes the fact 1North is a Scottish business will help it to secure contracts and also provide business to local engineers.

He said: "Scotland is not like London, Manchester or Liverpool as there are a lot of remote, rural communities.

"We are trying to build a network of local installers as people like to deal with people in their area."

The additional eight staff he plans to hire will include further installers and surveyors, with Mr Gray suggesting there is "no reason" the business should not continue to grow rapidly in 2014.

The Green Deal, a UK government initiative, aims to reduce carbon emissions and improve energy efficiency by encouraging people to make improvements to homes or business premises without having to pay for all the costs upfront.

However, it has been ­criticised as figures published this month showed only 626 households across the UK had measures installed and financed by the scheme.

The data did show more than £2.5m had been paid back to more than 8700 consumers through cashback applications.

Mr Gray said he believed there would be a growing uptake through scheme as it became more embedded.

1North is an assessor, installer and provider for the Green Deal meaning it can be a one-stop shop.

Bernard Sheridan, from Business Gateway, said: "1North Ltd is a fantastic Renfrewshire company that is making big waves in its industry."

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