Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 April 2014

Wright Group coasting into Asia

Mark Nodder (right), managing director of The Wright Group discusses the group’s £7million investment in R&D projects and in a programme of staff training with Alastair Hamilton, Chief Executive, Invest NI, which is supporting the development

A Ballymena bus company said it is preparing for an upturn in the global economy with a £7m investment in research and development.

Invest NI chief executive Alastair Hamilton announced the investment by Wright Group as it revealed its latest design, a double decker bus targeted at the Asian market.

Mr Hamilton said: “The Wright Group is one of Northern Ireland’s most innovative and established manufacturing companies.

“Last year as the economic downturn peaked, it, like hundreds of local firms faced major difficulties due to the rapid decline in demand from international markets.

“The Wright Group was initially expecting to implement a significant number of redundancies, but a combination of measures including internal cost saving and restructuring initiatives, and help from Invest NI, resulted in the actual number being reduced by 60%.

“With Invest NI support, the Wright Group is now preparing for the recovery of global markets by investing in the development of highly advanced bus designs based on the results of extensive research into market trends.”

The Wright Group supplies accessible buses around the world. The £7m investment includes £1.8m from Invest NI, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The group hopes to research new environmentally-friendly technologies and cost effective bus designs.

Mark Nodder, managing director of Wright Group, said: “The investments will be directed towards developing innovative products and becoming world-class in manufacturing and will form the core of our plans to maintain the company’s position as a global leader in the provision of cutting edge public transport technologies.”

While he said the business had cut costs, the group “recognised the importance of keeping your team together and preparing for the upturn”.