AN INVERCLYDE business has risen from the flames of a disastrous fire to make a £1m investment in new premises and take on more staff.

Carpetrite owner John Mulholland, 45, of Port Glasgow thought his world had collapsed on a Saturday afternoon in March last year when he looked out of his home and saw smoke and flames pouring into the sky from his storage unit at Kingston Industrial Estate.

The inferno entirely destroyed the premises but John has bounced back in remarkable style.

He said: “Someone sent me a picture to warn me that a fire had broken out at the unit.

“I rushed to my front window and felt sick when I saw it.

“It started in the unit next door and spread to mine, and the flames were so intense that it was still burning on the Monday night.”

Determined John, who started his business 23 years ago, has been renting temporary storage premises in MacDougall Street since then, but is now about to unveil a £450,000 replacement unit for the one that burned down.

He has also bought the land that the two adjacent units stood on before being destroyed by the fire, and plans to build another storage facility there next year — bringing his total new investment to around £1m.

John said: “In March last year I thought it was all over, but now the business is more successful than ever.

“We’ve risen from the ashes like a Phoenix.

“I’ve employed two extra staff to take the total up to 20, and I’ll hire another couple before Christmas.”

John runs shops in Dalrymple Street and West Blackhall Street in Greenock, where he said customers have shown great loyalty and patience since the fire.

He said: “I could have moved part of the business to Glasgow, but I wanted to keep everything local.

“I’m a Port boy and all my employees are from Inverclyde, so I want to keep everything local.”

John said his wife, Claire, daughters Kerry Ann and Samantha and son John have been a great support to him during the tense times following the fire.

He said: “Everyone has rallied around.

“The business is expanding three-fold.

“You could say we’re rolling out the red carpet for a much better business!”