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How Robert Forrester's instinct made a jobless man into a manager

Robert Forrester with James Collingwood

James Collingwood was offered a job at Bristol Street Motors by chief executive Robert Forrester following a TV appearance 10 years ago, and is now a senior manager at one of its dealerships in Sunderland.

In 2012, Collingwood aged 23, had been unemployed since leaving college before appearing in a live BBC TV discussion about the Budget announcement, hosted by Victoria Derbyshire in the Northeast.

Vertu Motors chief executive, Robert Forrester had also been asked to take part as a major regional employer.

Forrester said he was impressed with how Collingwood came across, which led to him being offered an interview at Vertu Motors, after which he was offered a job as a trainee sales executive.

As part of the new role, the group helped Collingwood learn to drive.

After completing his traineeship and spending several years as a sales executive, Collingwood, is now a senior manager at Bristol Street Motors Sunderland Vauxhall in Alexandra Avenue, Hylton Riverside, where he oversees a team of ten people.

Collingwood is responsible for monitoring financial performances against budget, in addition to coaching and developing his team's skills to achieve business objectives.

Forrester said: "I couldn't believe when I first met James that he was out of work and had been for so long. He was polite, articulate and had something about him; I decided there and then that he deserved to be given an interview.

"My initial instinct has certainly paid off, and not just for him, but also for Bristol Street Motors as he has proved to be a real asset to the company.

"James's work ethic, motivation and appetite to learn and progress has been second-to-none and his promotion to a senior manager within the business is well-deserved."


Collingwood added: "It was a career I had never considered, but I found I loved selling cars. I always have been fairly confident and a people person, so sales, where you predominantly deal with customers face to face, turned out to be my dream occupation.

"I can never thank Robert Forrester enough for seeing my potential, having faith in me and giving me, what has turned out to be a fantastic opportunity.

"It just goes to show that one moment or a chance encounter can totally change your whole life.

"While I was blessed and lucky, I grabbed what was presented to me by Robert and Bristol Street Motors with both hands and have worked very hard to get where I am today.

"I want to keep climbing the career ladder. I want to go all the way to the top."

Last year, Forrester starred in Undercover Big Boss fly-on-the-wall reality TV series.

The AM100 group recently announced it has invested £2 million to create a new multi-franchise Macklin Motors car dealership in Dunfermline.

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