Belfast Telegraph

Wrightbus upbeat on prospects after meeting investors

Plea: Ian Paisley
Plea: Ian Paisley
Ryan McAleer

By Ryan McAleer

Ballymena bus-maker Wrightbus has said it's in talks with a number of interested parties about addressing its ongoing cashflow problems.

The company confirmed yesterday that it had moved to the next stage of discussions with a number of potential new investors.

It comes two weeks after the Co Antrim manufacturer announced that it had appointed professional services giant Deloitte to help bring new investors on board.

In a statement released last night, Wrightbus said: "We can confirm that we have progressed onto the next stage of discussions with a number of interested parties.

"The board will be reviewing these proposals in the coming days and is working night and day to retain jobs in Ballymena to ensure long-term growth for Wrightbus, our supply chain and the wider community."

Yesterday's statement appeared to rubbish speculation of an imminent round of redundancies at the Ballymena firm.

However it's understood that several dozen agency workers employed by the firm have been let go in the past two weeks.

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The company yesterday declined to comment on the status of its agency workers.

The bus-maker's "significant economic hardship" has already been raised in the House of Commons by North Antrim MP Ian Paisley during a direct appeal to Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

In response, Mr Johnson, who as Mayor of London ordered 1,000 buses from Wrightbus, said: "I give my assurance, we will do everything we can to ensure the future of that great UK company."

Speaking last night, Mr Paisley described Wrightbus as "a great company with fantastic prospects and a highly skilled workforce".

He said: "Any investor will be buying into one of Northern Ireland's top flight success stories.

"I hope the cash flow issues can be resolved soon and I renew my call to the PM to support this company and help secure its future and the future of these important local jobs."

Last October the bus giant declared an 86% collapse in its 2017 pre-tax profits from £10.7m to just £1.5m after a £37m slump in its turnover.

The Wrights Group is not due to make its 2018 finances public for another two months.

However last year saw the company announce two separate waves of redundancies totalling 190 jobs.

It left the group's workforce in the region of 1,400, a reduction of almost 500 people in three years.

Belfast Telegraph