Belfast Telegraph

Car repairs comparison website to double its workforce with £2m investment

By Margaret Canning

A price comparison website based in Co Armagh is set to expand after raising nearly £2m in capital. is to double its workforce to 16 and move to new premises in the Mayfair Centre in Portadown.

The business was set up by Banbridge man Scott Hamilton, who worked for car dealerships including Charles Hurst in Northern Ireland and Halliwell Jones in England.

"I identified the need for something like this as I know people just weren't able to find the time to get quotes for car repairs," Mr Hamilton said.

The website has raised nearly £2m in capital since it was founded in October 2014.

Funding has been raised through corporate and private investors, including £500,000 from Halo, the Northern Ireland business angel network, and significant investment from Co-Fund N, which invests alongside angel investors.

Mr Hamilton was living in England when he decided to set up the business, but he has since opted to return home.

"I just really want to set up the business in Northern Ireland and employ people here," he said.

The website allows car owners to post details of the work they need done on their vehicle, as well as their location and how far they are prepared to travel to get the work done.

The details are then offered to the website's network of mechanics and garages, who bid for the work.

Mr Hamilton told how the mechanics were picked after a careful vetting process.

"The industry isn't regulated and anyone with a spanner, hammer and garage can set themselves up as a mechanic," he added.

"We have been so careful that we have rejected around 45% of the people who have applied to join the network."

Customers can choose the most suitable quote based on the cost, services offered or previous customer feedback.

Around 70,000 car owners already use the site, which also covers Scotland, the north-west of England, the Midlands and Northern Ireland.

Alan Watts, director of Halo, said the website had recognised that people were no longer opting for the "garage down the road" but instead wanted to shop around for the best deals.

"We are a nation that wants the best deal in the most convenient way, and online can be the solution.

"In just a short space of time, the company has expanded across the UK, opened up new headquarters and acquired thousands of reputable providers.

"We expect them to be a major player in the automotive sector in the next few years."

Mr Hamilton (43) went to school at Banbridge Academy before going to work for the Charles Hurst group.

He subsequently joined David Prentice BMW before moving to Liverpool in 2010 to become dealer principal of BMW/Mini at Halliwell Jones.

Belfast Telegraph