A KEIGHLEY haulage company is expanding after diversification helped it survive the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.

McDowell has bought four new heavy goods vehicles, supported by a six-figure funding package from HSBC UK.

Adding to the firm’s 104-strong fleet, the Mercedes Actros 510 units offer drivers more space and will provide extra comfort on long-haul routes.

Like many businesses, McDowell has faced testing trading conditions during the pandemic.

Half the 150-strong workforce was put on furlough.

But all employees are now working again and the company, based in Valley Road, is optimistic about the future.

Director, Geoffrey Hirst, said: “Demand for our services was certainly impacted by the pandemic.

“We had to use the furlough job retention scheme to protect jobs whilst customer orders were reduced and we worked with HSBC UK to secure support through the lockdown.

“However, we have a strong and varied client base that enabled us to still keep a significant proportion of vehicles on the road and we diversified into the food supply chain as the need for supermarket deliveries increased – and we also delivered hospital beds to NHS Nightingale hospitals throughout the UK.

“We’re optimistic about the future of the sector.

“Our full team is now back at work and despite being in the midst of uncertain times, we are really pleased to have secured the funding from HSBC UK to purchase four new vehicles and expand our articulated fleet.

“These new vehicles will enable us to improve our fleet in response to customer demand and provide a comfortable experience to our drivers, which is paramount to us.”

Anthony Wild, corporate relationship director for North & West Yorkshire with HSBC UK, said the bank was delighted to support the firm.

“Hauliers across the UK have acted as unsung heroes throughout the Covid-19 pandemic – ensuring that supply chains remain uninterrupted whilst simultaneously dealing with issues of their own,” he said.

“We are delighted to support McDowell throughout this period, with the investment into an expanded fleet showing the clear ambition of the business.”

McDowell, founded in 1976, is one the largest haulage businesses in northern England.