Ballymena's Wrightbus seals £30m deal

Ballymena's Wrightbus seals £30m deal

Ballymena-based coachbuilders Wrightbus have secured a substantial order for 179 buses, understood to be worth around £30m.

The order has been placed by leading UK bus and rail operator FirstGroup, as part of a £76m total order for 464 buses.

Wright Group Managing Director Mark Nodder told UTV he was thrilled with Thursday's announcement, which was positive news for the local area.

"There are nearly 1,400 families in Ballymena who are dependent really on the success of this company, so it's really important when they hear of a new order like this," he said.

The company won't be resting on its laurels though.

"Last year, we built about 1,000 buses - the previous year, a little bit less. Next year, we hope to build about 1,000," Mr Nodder explained.

"So nearly 200 buses in a single order is fantastic, but I still have another 800 to win for the rest of the year. It's a big hungry mouth to feed, this place."

It will constitute something like 20% of our order book for the remainder of this year and it's great news.

Mark Nodder, Wrightbus

Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis Limited will supply the rest of the order, with all the buses due for delivery in the 2013/14 financial year.

According to FirstGroup, a further eight vehicles will also be ordered - but no decision has been taken yet as to the manufacturer.

Outlining some of the design specifications, Giles Fearnley from First said: "It's really important that we provide the very greatest flexibility for those customers using wheelchairs and buggies.

"Fitting Wi-Fi as standard is also increasingly important for our customers and all the vehicles will have leather or e-leather seating.

"We are determined to be at the forefront of customer service across the British bus industry."

Mr Fearnley also said he was delighted to continue supporting UK bus manufacturers and added:"Our manufacturing partners continue to lead the world in terms of quality and value for money."

Mr Nodder also said the deal was "a huge endorsement" of their product - the StreetLite range of lightweight buses.

"It's completely designed, developed and made by Wrightbus - it doesn't rely on any third-party components, chassis and so forth," he told UTV.

"So it's very much our own vehicle and we see it as the future direction of the company."

© UTV

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