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Vehicle firm Wrightbus hoping to land big Hong Kong deal

By Margaret Canning

Published 01/07/2016

William Wright
William Wright

Ballymena bus manufacturer Wrightbus is in advanced talks over a multimillion-pound Far East order for 500 buses.

Yesterday company founder William Wright revealed the deal in an interview with the Belfast Telegraph in which he stated the contract was worth "quite a bit of money".

Mr Wright (88), who founded the company in 1946 with his father Robert, told the Belfast Telegraph that the business would be providing 500 news buses to Kowloon Motor Bus Company - KMB - in Hong Kong.

The company yesterday attempted to dampen the excitement over the deal by saying that the major export order had not yet been signed.

A spokeswoman said: "The company has a longstanding policy of not making comments regarding its commercial activities unless there are matters of substance to confirm."

But the Belfast Telegraph understands that the company has been engaged in talks about an order for KMB.

There are already 500 Wrightbuses on the region's roads following earlier deals.

The company employs around 2,000 people and more than doubled its pre-tax profits to £11.6m - on turnover of £297m - in its most recent results.

The businessman also told this newspaper of his delight in the UK vote to leave the EU - though he condemned the "hysterical" reaction to the result from stock markets.

Mr Wright said the company did not sell many buses in European markets, with a grand total of five sold to a Dutch company in recent years. But it is a major exporter of buses to Hong Kong, Singapore, China and India - and has an assembly plant in the latter.

It also sells buses to customers in the Republic and Britain, and in May won an order for 91 buses from UK company First Group in a deal worth £20m.

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.

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