ONE of the oldest family-run firms in Greenock has closed down after nearly 150 years in existence.

Businessman Bill Knox has pulled the plug on plumbing business McPhersons by announcing his retirement.

The Clarence Street-based stopped trading on Friday.

Mr Knox, 74, decided to retire, who lives in Gourock, says he was forced to pull the shutters down after a torrid 2018, which was the worst on record for the family-owned firm, which started life as a building business before diversifying.

He has paid tribute to all loyal customers who have supported the company since it was established in 1870.

Mr Knox said: "I've worked in the building trade for 59 years and been in the business for 58 of those years.

"I'm retiring.

"I'm 74 now and I worked on and quite enjoyed it.

"I enjoy working but there comes a point when your wife is retired, and has been for six years, and what kind of life is it for her when I'm still working five days a week?

"I think we've given a very good service over the years.

"We've had a lot of very good customers and a lot have said they're sorry we've closed up."

Mr Knox and three staff, including his son-in-law, worked in the business but he says he was sure it was the right time to call it a day.

He said: "Up until 2018 we were doing well but that was a horrendous year.

"We were closed for double the number of days we would normally be because of the snow. "Spring was horrendous and December also turned out to be pretty poor. "My son-in-law is in the business but I didn't want to saddle him with all the problems, and there's more and more all the time. "There's a new tax system coming for small businesses, for example, and a lot more people are buying online, although they are sometimes paying a lot more on the internet than they would do if they bought locally.

"When we did a delivery, we could say 'exactly when do you want it?'.

"You don't get that online.

"It's becoming worse and worse."

Previously known as AF McPherson, the business started out in the building trade, gradually diversifying into its plumbing and bathroom centre on Clarence Street.

Over its 149 year history, the company has also had premises in Roxburgh Street, Bruce Street, Duncan Street and Newton Street.

Mr Knox said: "Before the railway came, we were based in Newton Street but the railway dislodged the business and it went to Roxburgh Street.

"We were contractors in those days.

"My grandfather Andrew 'AF' McPherson played for Morton in goal and that's why nearly everything is blue and white in the business.

"We evolved into this about 30 years ago and the contracting side gradually went away about 10-15 years ago."

Mr Knox is now looking forward to spending more time with his loved ones.

He said: "Life goes on."