A Bishop Auckland company is laying the foundations for growth with major investment in both its sales outlets and staff.

Lloyd Ltd, which provides machinery sales, service, parts and finance for the agriculture, groundcare, construction and materials handling sectors, is currently building a new premises in the town which is due to open next Spring.

Located behind its current premises, the £5m development will offer improved showroom, office and training facilities as well as a bigger workshop across the 2,900m2 site.

The new build follows the recent move of its Penrith branch to purpose-built premises, having outgrown its former home of over 50 years. The pair are among eight dealerships across the north of England and south of Scotland, and the company continues to grow and invest in this, its 55th year in business.

With an eye on the future Lloyd Ltd has had a long-standing focus on developing apprentices, with 25 currently working and learning across the business.

Offered in partnership with local colleges, the firm’s apprenticeship scheme mainly covers technical roles, including agricultural, construction and lawncare/groundcare engineers and parts advisors, but has recently been expanded to include administrative positions.

Zoe Armstrong, one of 30 staff at Lloyd Ltd’s branch in St Helen Auckland, is one of its first business administration apprentices. The 19-year-old has just completed her Level 3 Apprenticeship as part of a three-year NVQ in Business Administration which will lead to a university-level graduation in 2021.

Zoe, from Bishop Auckland, splits her time between working full-time at Lloyd Ltd and carrying out work and assignments with Bishop Auckland College, supported by Leanne Smith from the college’s apprenticeship team.

She said: “The apprenticeship approach has been ideal for me. I wanted to develop my skills while getting paid at the same time, so being able to combine learning with hands-on work has been great.

“It has been challenging as the assignments require a lot of research, which takes time, but I always get there in the end! I’ve been lucky as Lloyd Ltd have been very supportive and have given me the flexibility to do what I need to do.”

Alistair Whitby, Lloyd Ltd Bishop Auckland’s Dealer Principal, said he is impressed with Zoe’s progress: “Combining work with study is no easy feat, but Zoe has done a great job and is already a valued member of our team.

“Thanks to the support of the college she has developed her knowledge and confidence, and our team at the branch has helped her put her skills to use on a daily basis. We look forward to continuing to support her as she gains her qualifications and beyond.”

Natalie Davison-Terranova, Principal and Chief Executive of Bishop Auckland College, added: “Lloyd Ltd is one of many local employers the college supports with its training and it is fantastic news that it is investing in both new premises and staff here in Bishop Auckland.

“We are delighted to hear that Zoe is doing so well, working hard to establish a successful career with a local industry success story, and we look forward to her graduation in 2021.”

The college is currently advertising vacancies for Level 3 Apprenticeships in Motor Vehicle Repair, Data Administration, Business Administration and Teaching Assistant. Contact apprenticeships@bacoll.ac.uk for more information and to apply or visit bacoll.ac.uk