Belfast Telegraph

Ian Paisley calls for Boris Johnson to make 'major intervention' after Wrightbus suffer financial difficulties

Boris Johnson on previous visit here
Boris Johnson on previous visit here

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said that he has contacted Prime Minister-in-waiting Boris Johnson over financial difficulties suffered by Wrightbus.

The Ballymena company has confirmed that it is actively seeking new investors.

Wrightbus is best known for constructing Routemaster buses for the city of London while Mr Johnson was mayor. They were dubbed 'Boris buses' due to their close association with the eccentric politician.

The Co Antrim business, which employs around 1,400 people, has drafted in professional services company Deloitte following reports that it is facing financial difficulties.

North Antrim MP Mr Paisley said he had already raised the issue with Mr Johnson before he was elected Tory leader.

"I'm looking at something that would need to have a government response within a fortnight, if not sooner, and I certainly hope someone in government will hear those concerns and respond to them," he told the BBC.

Mr Paisley said the situation at the firm had grown "serious" in recent months.

"There is a major cashflow problem that needs to be resolved," he said.

"A lot of work has gone on over the last nine months to try and help those issues.

"It needs cash to keep running, and to pay its talented workforce.

"I've already contacted Boris Johnson's office - I had spoken to him before about this, but now he is in a position of influence I will be asking the government to make a major intervention to try and help this company, as it requires significant help."

The North Antrim MP said that information was "gradually" being provided to staff.

DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds confirmed his party would be discussing the issue in upcoming meetings with the government after Mr Johnson takes office.

Sky News reported that annualised losses at the Wrights Group were currently running at around £15m, with the bus maker seeking a capital investment of at least £30m.

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 group is not due to make its 2018 finances public for another three months. However, last year saw the company announce two separate waves of redundancies totalling 190 jobs.

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

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