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"People, technology and experience are all key to what we do. We have found all three in Sutherland."

Joe Costello, The essentiagroup

The essentiagroup is a multi-million pound business with operations in Newcastle and headquarters in Glasgow. It provides considerable expertise in the field of health and lifestyle management telephone advice and support services to people in the UK and Europe.

The business takes over 6 million calls per annum across various services, ranging from simple information and literature requests, to in-depth advice and support, all tailored to individual caller needs.

The company's current portfolio of clients includes the Scottish Executive, the Department of Health, and the Central Office of Information.

Needing to expand in order to deal with the high level of calls, The essentiagroup chose Brora in Sutherland as the location for a third site. Since setting up there in December 2003, the number of employees has gone from an initial 15 to almost 80.

Joe Costello, Managing Director and one of the founders of The essentiagroup, has nothing but praise for Sutherland and the people working at the Brora offices.

"Our reputation has been built on ensuring that we provide high quality services to callers in the fields of health and lifestyle information. We achieve this by ensuring that our staff have the necessary background and experience and are then trained appropriately to deliver a service to the clients' specification. They are supported by databases with regularly updated referral information.

"This means that people, technology and experience are all key to what we do. We have found all three in Sutherland.

"In many ways, Sutherland was an easy choice for us to make in picking a new business location. Everything went very quickly and smoothly when dealing with the Local Enterprise Company and all within the timescale we needed things to happen.

"We had considered Ireland and the Scottish Borders as alternatives but Sutherland already had the facilities we needed and we knew that having the technology essential to our work would not be a problem. I remember visiting the ready-made facilities where we now have offices and thinking we don't have to do anything much here to get started. I was very surprised at that but it was great.

"A particular attraction of Sutherland is that we don't suffer from attrition in terms of staff turnover. We've lost maybe two members of staff in the first two years. These rates are just incredible. We really do have a dedicated workforce.

"We're already twice the size we expected to be. We have a waiting list of skilled people waiting to join. I'm constantly surprised by the people there. We haven't lowered our bar any in terms of the skill-sets and people we want."

The Brora offices takes calls to helplines on topics such as smoking cessation; winter warmth; hepatitis C; and sexual health.

Says Joe: "We have been glad to grow our operations in Sutherland given the quality of the people, the facilities and the support from local partner agencies. We can foresee a fruitful and thriving future there."