Belfast Telegraph

Wrightbus celebrates £21m Asian export deal

By Heather McGarrigle

A Northern Ireland bus company has announced an Asian export deal worth £21m as it continued a successful strategy of targeting overseas markets.

The order will see Wrightbus deliver an additional 300 double deck bus kits to SBS Transit for assembly in Singapore.

The deal comes on the back of an initial export order, won in tandem with Volvo Bus Corporation, for the Wright Group to supply the bodywork for 150 new double deck buses in kit form to SBS Transit, announced last August.

Jonathan Poynton, Wright Group business development director, said: "This is a hugely significant milestone for the Wright Group here in Singapore, in what has been a major project for the company, both in terms of scope and scale.

"As well as the design and build in Northern Ireland of an initial prototype vehicle to provide a benchmark for local production, the project has also drawn upon our production management and logistics capabilities to produce and package completely knocked down (CKD) kits in Ballymena, which are then shipped across the globe, with local assembly workers trained to Wright Group quality standards by staff seconded from Ballymena."

This latest contract win builds on a year of progress by the company. It made a £7m investment in research and development in March, which included £1.8m from Invest NI, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

The loss of a substantial contract in 2009 had forced the group to announce that 235 redundancies would be made.

In the end, however, just 100 jobs were cut, but Wright Group boss Mark Nodder told the Belfast Telegraph at the time: "We're determined in so far as we possibly can to preserve employment in Wrightbus and in the local area.

"My intention is to die in a ditch before we cut any more jobs."

The firm went on to secure a £7.4m double contract in June to supply Mistral Group (UK) plc with 60 of its new StreetLite buses, in a £6m deal. They also provided 12 StreetLite buses to Isle of Man Transport, gaining a £1.4m contract.

The Wright Group was also recently awarded the contract to make the eco-friendly replacement for the iconic London Routemaster double decker.

The first Wrightbus double deck bus officially entered service on the streets of Singapore this week and by the end of 2010 there will be 450 Wrightbus-bodied double-deck buses in service across Singapore.

The new bus is designed to meet the requirements of Singapore's climate and high capacity transport demands.

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