A CAMPERVAN conversion business has been launched in the Outer Hebrides by a chartered engineer, and has already introduced a waiting list to “cope with demand from across the UK” while eyeing international expansion.

Rob Hall launched Studio Vans in June after receiving advice during lockdown from taxpayer-funded support service Business Gateway.

Business Gateway said, by collaborating with local and international makers and designers, Studio Vans offers “a customisable service taking advantage of sustainable and premium crafted materials”. This covers a broad range of vans, including vintage and electric vehicles.

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Mr Hall secured funding through the Outer Hebrides young entrepreneurs start-up scheme and the European Regional Development Fund’s grants for growth programme. Business Gateway said the funding had enabled Studio Vans, which has two employees in the Outer Hebrides, to buy key manufacturing products and fit out premises leased from Highlands and Islands Enterprise at Balivanich on Benbecula, between North and South Uist.

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The business support organisation and HIE worked with Mr Hall to support him with his application to lease the property. Mr Hall also secured a grant through the HIE innovation programme.

Business Gateway said: “Studio Vans has now introduced a waiting list to cope with demand from across the UK and has already confirmed partners to take operations overseas to Australia and New Zealand.”

It noted Studio Vans’ collaborations “include Glasgow-based designer Still Life Workshop, remoulding far-flung ocean plastic collected from the beautiful Uist beaches into innovative products for van fit-outs”.

Mr Hall said: “As we were relatively new to the island, engaging with Business Gateway was crucial in making new business connections through individual introductions, local events and virtual meetings across the country.”