Belfast Telegraph

Wrights Group Ltd

By John Simpson

Wrights Group is the parent company in a group of Wright family-controlled companies located at Galgorm in Ballymena which designs and builds commercial buses. The largest subsidiary in the Group is Wrightbus.

The company has diversified its product range impressively in recent years. However, unusual circumstances have affected turnover in the most recent year. In keeping with a problem affecting the wider bus fabrication business, the company faced difficulties in 2007 associated with the new generation Euro4 chasses. The recent annual report says that the problems have largely been overcome and results are expected to better profitable levels in 2008

The company operates with a low level of financial borrowing so that pre-tax profits are only slightly lower than operating profits. The ratio of operating profits to turnover, at 4.6% in 2006, was lower than in the previous year and was a loss in 2007.

As the publicity on innovative developments in bus design has confirmed, the company spends large sums each year on research and development which rose to £4m in 2006 and remained at a high level in 2007. Employment in this company has increased from about 700 four years ago to over 900 in 2006 but fell to an average of 872 in 2007.

A feature of the accounts, not unexpected, is the high value of stocks of materials held to support the production schedule. Stocks, as valued in the balance sheet, have tended to be about 10% of the annual turnover figure or, in recent years, averaged just over the equivalent of six weeks output.

Belfast Telegraph