Belfast Telegraph

Ballymena bus builder Wrightbus increases R&D and turnover in busy year

By Clare Weir

Ballymena busbuilder Wrightbus doubled its spending on research and development to £7m in 2013 in the face of increased global competition. Accounts for the year ended September 30 2013, also show that the firm increased its turnover by 7% to £168m last year.

The research and development spending figure meant that profits fell back from almost £4m to £1.4m.

In recent weeks the company, which makes the red double decker 'Bus for London' – also known as the Boris Bus after the city mayor – announced it was to open a permanent office at Masdar City, Abu Dhabi.

The firm already has operations in India, Singapore and Hong Kong, as well as its Ballymena headquarters and a new depot in Antrim.

The number of people employed at the firm rose over the year from 1,044 to 1,185.

In May, the firm said it was creating a further 130 jobs in a £14m investment at its Antrim factory that manufactures chassis. Over £10m of that investment will be for five research and development projects.

The accounts for 2013 state that the 2014 outlook is "encouraging" and that the directors expect an improved financial performance, adding that key future risks will be competition from other manufacturers, demand for products, control of diverse manufacturing operations and foreign currency fluctuation.

The company says it is continuing to review manufacturing operations to improve efficiencies, reduce material costs and remain competitive.

Wright Group managing director Mark Nodder told the Belfast Telegraph last month that the Antrim investment will drive a tripling of export sales over the next four years.

"Our emphasis is now on seeing what each different country requires specifically and tailoring our products to suit those markets," Mr Nodder said.

Belfast Telegraph

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