Cost-conscious homeowners turn to giant screwdrivers

A County Durham repair firm has seen the number of jobs it carries out rocket in the past year thanks to cost-conscious customers – and a giant screwdriver.

0800 Repair launched less than a year ago, using its own employees and a network of contractors to carry out repairs on household goods such as fridges or washing machines across the UK.

Since August 2009 the firm has gone from carrying out no chargeable repairs to being called out to over  250  faulty appliances  every week.  In conjunction with over 2500 repairs per week for major retailers and insurance companies this has enabled 0800 Repair to set up a number of franchises across the UK to meet growing customer demand.

Chester-le-Street-based 0800 Repair offers repair and installation services on a wide variety of domestic appliances. With its trademark yellow and black vans complete with a giant seven foot screwdriver on the roof, the company has created a distinct identity for itself across the length and breadth of the UK.

As the effects of the recession hit many homeowners have been forced to look at ways to save money in their household budgets. This has led people who might have bought a new product before the downturn to turn to a repair engineer instead.

Paul Feek, 0800 Repair’s Managing Director, said: “People are thinking twice about replacing their household appliances. A washing machine might cost £300 to buy new, but it would cost less than £80 to repair an old one.

“Added to that there were 13 million white goods sold in 2007 which are now coming to the end of their warranty periods. Anyone who wants to repair one of those items will need to contact an engineer, and that’s where much of our business comes from.”

0800 Repair, which is part of the Pacifica Group, is expecting to see a turnover of £12m in 2009/2010, with plans to more than double that figure by 2014.

0800 Repair currently employs more than 100 staff at its call centres and has a network of 400 sub-contracted engineers.

It is in the process of creating another 60 jobs for call centre workers over the next two years – 45 of them in Chester-le-Street – as it expands.

Paul Feek said: “We’ve got an aggressive expansion plan. We’re hoping to develop a further 150 franchises over the next five years.

“We’ve grown incredibly quickly over the past year, despite the effects of the recession. To go from no jobs at all to 300 a week is a huge step, and we’re going to make sure we capitalise on that.”

“As the 0800 Repair brand grows, we plan to expand into other areas. We constantly monitor the performance of our business, and we have identified a number of areas for the business to concentrate on so we can move it forward.”

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