ONE of Scotland's largest building services firms which is looking after thousands of local homes has now set up a base in Inverclyde.

James Frew Ltd, which specialises in heating, plumbing and gas servicing, has contracts with four local housing associations, including the largest in River Clyde Homes, and is now hoping to invest further in the area.

The company is also stepping up a programme to train local apprentices through its academy at West College Scotland in Greenock.

Now from their new premises at a unit in trade park Empress Court the firm plan to expand in Inverclyde.

Area manager Alan McKeegan said: "It made sense to have a base here in Inverclyde. We have major contracts here with River Clyde Homes, Oak Tree, Cloch Housing and Larkfield.

"We believe there are real opportunities here. It is an area we want to invest in and we have been looking at building more contracts here.

"From these offices we now have 28 engineers based here and local apprentices as well. We are looking at taking on local apprentices."

The Ayrshire-founded firm, formerly Gas Sure, has around 400 employees working across the west of Scotland covering both social and private housing contracts.

As well as a new contract supervisor there are three new modern apprentices, two in carpentry and joinery, and an electrical installation trainee joining the team led by Alan.

James Frew established an academy with West College Scotland two years ago and have a number of recruits coming through the ranks.

West College Scotland's acting head of construction and building services Allan Bauld says the further education institution is delighted to be working closely with James Frew.

The company's apprentices attend the college to complete qualifications as part of the academy programme and will then fulfil jobs based in Inverclyde.

The James Frew Academy is one of a number of close links with industry established by WCS, which has a state of the art workshop in the Greenock campus.

They have also set up a strong partnership with plumbing firm James Paterson and Sons.