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Business / Car hire firm adapts to winds of change amid pandemic downturn

Bolts Car Hire secured a £1m funding package to buy 55 vehicles to serve wind farm contractors

A LERWICK based car hire business has diversified by buying 55 commercial vehicles to tap into demand from firms involved in wind farm construction.

Bolts Car Hire received a £1 million funding package from the Bank of Scotland to purchase the vehicles.

It comes after the pandemic and its travel restrictions left the business with 1,500 cancellations and 150 unused cars.

To ensure sufficient cash flow, Bolts Car Hire decided to tap into demand from wind farm construction firms for vehicles.

The 103-turbine Viking Energy development is currently being constructed in the central mainland of Shetland.

The business approached Bank of Scotland for support, securing a funding package to purchase 55 commercial vehicles including 20 vans and 31 4×4 pick-up trucks.

In 2017, the firm had an annual turnover of £1.5 million and is now focused on building back its business to similar levels within the next couple of years.

John Garriock. Photos: Hans J Marter/Shetland News

It is currently housed in new premises at the former Grantfield Garage.

Bolts Car Hire managing director John Garriock said: “Tourism to Shetland had been on the rise for years, but the pandemic saw visitor numbers virtually stop overnight leaving our fleet of rental cars and taxis at a standstill.

“We saw an opportunity to diversify our operations and supply construction firms on the island with commercial vehicles for their work.

“Thanks to the support from Bank of Scotland, we were able to buy the new vehicles and reach a new customer base that we will continue to service as tourism starts to pick-up once again.

“Tourism levels are still far below what they should be at this time of year, but we’ve seen a steady increase in bookings as lockdown measures ease and we hope to see this trend continue as we head into summer.”

Bank of Scotland relationship manager David Henderson said: “We’ll continue to stand by businesses like Bolts Car Hire over the coming months as the country looks to recover strongly from the pandemic.”