Belfast Telegraph

Wrightbus in new drive to triple its export sales: 130 new staff in £14m investment

By Clare Weir

The addition of 130 new staff in a £14m investment at Ballymena busbuilder Wright Group will drive a tripling of export sales over the next four years, the company has said.

Workers will be taken on at Wright EN-Drive in Antrim, where chassis are designed and manufactured.

The roles will generate £2.5m a year in wages and will support many hundreds more jobs at firms in the supply chain.

Indeed the tyres of many Wrightbus vehicles are made at the Michelin facility in Ballymena.

The money will also support five research and development projects which will look at how to tailor vehicles to the exact specifications of new customers in the Middle East and Latin America.

Invest Northern Ireland gave £1.8m of support for the R&D projects and £650,000 of support through its Jobs Fund for the 130 jobs, towards a total investment of £5.5m.

Enterprise minister Arlene Foster said she hoped that some of the posts could be filled by workers who had lost jobs at other large manufacturing firms.

"From its inception, Wright Group has shown its willingness to innovate and that is why the company is doing so well globally and it is continuing to look to the future and identify new opportunities," she said.

"The success of the company is a testament to the workforce.I would hope that some roles could be filled by skilled workers who lost their jobs at other firms like FG Wilson or Mivan."

The R&D projects will look at developing low-cost buses for India, lower and narrower double deckers for the Australia and New Zealand markets, electric, no-emission vehicles for Hong Kong, double and single deck buses for the Middle East, and a new integral chassis.

Group managing director Mark Nodder said that the company is hungry for more contracts.

"We realised a long time ago that we had to look outside the UK and Ireland if we were to make it and are looking at opportunities in India, China, the Middle East and Latin America," he said.

"We now have offices all over the globe and there is always a member of staff travelling somewhere across the world to do business."

"Our emphasis is now on seeing what each different country requires specifically and tailoring our products to suit those markets."

Belfast Telegraph