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Wrightbus lands orders from Hong Kong for 200 buses

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'Wrightbus said that Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) has ordered 150 units and its sister company LongWin Bus is taking a further 10'

'Wrightbus said that Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) has ordered 150 units and its sister company LongWin Bus is taking a further 10'

'Wrightbus said that Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) has ordered 150 units and its sister company LongWin Bus is taking a further 10'

Ballymena bus manufacturer Wrightbus has announced it has secured orders for more than 200 buses from Hong Kong in deals thought to be worth tens of millions of pounds.

The orders are good news for Wrightbus and its workforce and come days after the group company revealed a collapse in pre-tax profits in 2017 from £10.7m to £1.5m.

And the deals have been hailed as an example of the ability of exporters in Northern Ireland to secure orders in far-flung markets as Brexit draws closer.

However, North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley said the firm also needed more orders from home markets, including from Translink.

Vehicles for both orders will be manufactured at the new Wrightbus site in Gracehill, Ballymena, which was bought by the firm after it was vacated by tobacco giant JTI Gallaher.

The company employs around 1,700 people.

The buses for KMB will be among the first to be produced and delivered from the repurposed site.

Wrightbus said that Kowloon Motor Bus (KMB) has ordered 150 units and its sister company LongWin Bus is taking a further 10. All are double-decker vehicles with Wrightbus bodywork and Volvo chassis.

The company confirmed that it also received an order for seven buses for New World First Bus (NWFB) and 46 for its sister company City Bus Ltd.

No value has been put on the orders by the company but it's believed they are worth tens of millions of pounds.

The deals bring the total number of bus bodywork orders won by the company in Hong Kong in the last two years to 484 units.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of industry body Manufacturing NI, said: "This is great news for Wrightbus, workers and the supply chain.

"The company's success in winning healthy orders has a far reaching impacts in communities across north Antrim and Northern Ireland.

"We know we can compete and win in markets at home and abroad when the conditions are right which make the next couple of weeks critical as the Brexit withdrawal agreement negotiations come to a head.

"Hopefully some sense will prevail and we get a deal which is great for Northern Ireland firms and families."

Mr Paisley said he was "delighted and encouraged" for Wrightbus and its workforce.

"The Far East has been a great market for this local company and the order will help sustain the company at a time when we have seen a downturn in national and international bus orders," he said.

"Once again I reiterate my call to Translink and to the Secretary of State to find some mechanism that will allow Translink to commence an order book with Wright bus going forward.

"Overseas orders are fantastic news and are a cherry on top in many cases but local and national bus orders are where the big prize rests."

John McLeister, group business and product development director at Wrightbus, said: "We are honoured to receive these two new orders from our long-standing customers in Hong Kong.

"Working closely with our partners Volvo, we have supplied almost 1,500 double-deckers for operation in Hong Kong since we shipped the first bus in 2001.

"The Hong Kong double-deckers will be manufactured at our facility in Ballymena and will provide a real boost for our workforce and the local economy."

Wrightbus International was established as a separate division of the Wrights Group to generate growth in key overseas markets.


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