Belfast Telegraph

Rescue of Wrightbus signals new chapter for local industry: Paisley

Wrightbus buyer set to start recruitment within weeks (Niall Carson/PA)
Wrightbus buyer set to start recruitment within weeks (Niall Carson/PA)
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

A DEAL by industrialist Jo Bamford for the purchase of Ballymena bus maker Wrightbus marks a "new chapter" in industry, it's been claimed.

Administrators Deloitte confirmed that Bamford Bus Company has now bought the business and assets of Wrights Group Limited, Wrightbus Limited, Wright En-Drive Limited and Metallix Limited.

Peter Allen of Deloitte said: "After making extensive efforts to find a buyer, we are confident the new owner represents a bright future for a key employer in Northern Ireland."

DUP North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said the deal was a "new chapter" for industry here.

"This is a huge opportunity for NI industry and commerce and nothing must be put in its place to hinder it," he said.

And he said he would meet senior politicians, including the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State, "to ensure that no impediment is in the way of success for this company".

The group of companies went into administration last month with the loss of 1,200 jobs, bringing to an end 73 years of ownership by the Wright family. A figure for the deal has not been disclosed.

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Jo Bamford is the son of Lord Bamford, the chairman of machinery company JCB. Mr Bamford's company Ryse Hydrogen already had a contract to work with Wrightbus on a deal to convert London buses to hydrogen fuel. It's unclear how many of the 1,200 jobs will be saved.

Bamford Bus Company said it is "currently determining the size and composition of the workforce required for its future plans, but the 60 staff retained by the joint administrators have transferred to Bamford Bus Company".

In a separate deal, Jans Composites, which is led by businessman Peter Drayne, has also agreed the purchase of Wright Composites Limited for an undisclosed sum. The deal for Wright Composites was first revealed in Business Telegraph last week. George Brash of trade union Unite said the deals were "a huge vote of confidence".

He added: "Unite will engage with our members and with the new owners to ensure the greatest possible number of workers return to what they do best, building buses. This is a highly-skilled workforce and it is vital that Ballymena continues to grow as a hub for cutting-edge bus manufacturing".

Bamford Bus Company was advised by deals teams at business advisory firm PwC. Its director James Burns said: "We'll continue to support the Bamford Bus Company team with the transition, and look forward to working with them in their goal to return the business to a leading international manufacturer based in NI."

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