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Wrightbus drives off with major £20m order

By Margaret Canning

Published 28/04/2016

Deal: Wrightbus vehicle
Deal: Wrightbus vehicle

Co Antrim coachbuilder Wrightbus has won a major new order for 91 buses worth around £20m.

The Ballymena manufacturer will build the vehicles - 70 of which will be double-deckers - for UK transport company First Group.

First Group is ordering a total of 305 new vehicles in a combined deal worth £70m.

And 204 of the buses are to be built by Wrightbus competitor Alexander Dennis Ltd in Scotland, while 10 coach chassis will be built in Sweden by Volvo.

The bodies for the Swedish chassis will be manufactured by Alexander Dennis.

Wrightbus employs around 1,900 people in the Co Antrim town. It was founded in 1946 - and William Wright, son of founder Robert - is still a director of the company.

The company said it would now have 3,500 vehicles run by First Bus across Britain.

Sales managing director Ian Downie said: "We are delighted to have received this significant order from one of our longest standing customers.

"When delivered, there will in total be more than 670 StreetLites and 136 StreetDecks - which were launched in 2015 - in operation with First Bus.

"Wrightbus is proud of its long-term relationship with First Bus and looks forward to delivering this latest fleet of new buses into service."

The companies have been doing business for more than 25 years.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said the deal was great news for manufacturing here ahead of next week's Assembly election.

"Every order is good news for Wrightbus, their staff, their supply chain and for Northern Ireland's manufacturing reputation."

Last month London mayor Boris Johnson confirmed a fresh deal to buy almost 200 new Routemaster buses from Wrightbus in a deal worth £62m.

That deal is thought to have secured 300 jobs at the firm. When the deal is complete there will be 1,000 Ballymena-made buses on the streets of London.

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