Ballymena firm celebrates two years after rescue by Bamford
Ballymena bus builder Wrightbus has said it will soon have more than 900 staff as it marks two years after being bought out of administration by entrepreneur Jo Bamford.
To mark the anniversary, the company has completed The UK Hydrogen Roadshow, a tour of Great Britain in its world-first hydrogen double decker.
It journeyed from London to Glasgow in partnership with RYZE Hydrogen and hydrogen production company INEOS, and reached Glasgow ahead of the UN climate conference, Cop26.
Mr Bamford bought the famous business two months after it collapsed into administration with debts of around £60m and the loss of 1,200 jobs.
The sale marked the end of over 70 years of ownership in the Wright family.
Since then, the takeover has led to a rebuilding of the company. Its workforce of 56 at the time of the purchase is set to grow to over 900 staff over the next few months.
Earlier this year, Bamford Bus Company, the registered company name for the business, reported pre-tax profits of £0.9m in its first full financial report since the 2019 deal. It recorded sales of £71.8m for the 15 months to December 2020.
As it marked the completion of the UK Hydrogen Roadshow, the company said that its growth was largely thanks to its zero emission products. It has launched four zero emission buses in the past year, beginning with its world-first hydrogen double decker, the Hydroliner.
That breakthrough was followed by its first EV double decker, the Electroliner. Both buses now also have a single deck equivalent — the GB Kite Electroliner and the GB Kite Hydroliner.
Wrightbus is now the only UK manufacturer to have four zero emission buses on the market.
Mr Bamford said: “We’re incredibly proud of what has been achieved in 24 months, and it’s largely thanks to the hard work and determination of the staff in Ballymena who have helped not only to get the business back on its feet, but to transform it into a profitable world-leading zero emission bus builder.
“We’re playing a vital part in the decarbonisation of the transport sector, creating green jobs as we go and bolstering the economy in Northern Ireland and further afield. We’ve made great strides in research and innovation to help ensure the UK is well placed to reach its net zero targets.
“The future of the firm is incredibly bright — and that’s not something people would have believed could be possible to say two years ago. We have a very healthy order book and we believe that over the next 12 months, we will be increasing production shifts to increase our capacity to ensure we can keep up with demand.”
He said the company now had to make sure the UK Government supported the wider push to have thousands of zero emission buses up and down the UK.
“Completing The UK Hydrogen Roadshow was a great achievement and we were able to shine a spotlight on some fantastic hydrogen innovations, but the tour also highlighted the current lack of hydrogen infrastructure across the country — and that’s exactly what we need to ensure the sector is able to grow at pace.”