Belfast Telegraph

Wrightbus to enter administration on Wednesday putting 1400 jobs at risk

Ballymena-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus entered administration last week.
Ballymena-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus entered administration last week.

Ballymena bus manufacturing company Wrightbus is set to enter administration on Wednesday.

Sky News has reported that the company is expected to formally appoint Deloitte as administrator in the morning.

The move will put around 1400 staff jobs at risk and affect dozens of suppliers in the Co Antrim area.

A source close to one of the bidders for the company told Sky News that the appointment of administrators on Wednesday was "almost certain".

DUP MP Ian Paisley said that administration was now an "inevitability" and that the future of the company "hangs in the balance".

"Essentially from this point the administrator has a week to find a buyer," he told the BBC.

Mr Paisley said it was a "terrible time" for Wrightbus employees and their families.

"All 1500 of them deserve our support. The supply chain workers also face troubling times," the North Antrim MP said.

"The company has been working very hard to conclude a sale but difficult decisions need to be made and time has run out."

UUP leader Robin Swann told the News Letter that administration looked likely for the company and that it was a "worrying time" for everyone involved.

DUP MP Ian Paisley with Boris Johnson at Wrightbus factory in 2016
DUP MP Ian Paisley with Boris Johnson at Wrightbus factory in 2016

"The news is not looking good at this minute in time. If it goes into administration, as seems likely, the administrator needs to find a buyer to protect jobs and industry in this area," the North Antrim MLA said.

Stephen Kelly, chief executive Manufacturing NI said the news would have huge ramifications for the entire area.

"If reports are true, then this would be a devastating blow to the staff at Wrightbus, the manufacturing sector across NI and particularly damaging to the Ballymena economy," he said.

"Businesses in the supporting supply chain have been doing what they can to support the company over this past year in the hope the business can be saved.

"They face some very uncertain months as they try to secure the money they are owed and replace the trade they have done with Wrightbus.  

"That won't be easy as there's a significant cooling of demand across the UK economy as Brexit bites and buyers are reluctant to make big capital purchases. The company has a great product and a very talented workforce. Hopefully the administration process will see the firm put back on a firm footing."

Attempts to find a buyer for the company have failed, last week it emerged that two would-be buyers including entrepreneur Jo Bamford, whose father owns machinery giant JCB, had walked away from a potential takeover.

Reports suggest Mr Bamford had baulked at the high rent payable on Wrightbus’ premises.

Wrightbus has faced growing financial difficulties due to a downturn in demand in some of its major markets, prompting it to appoint business advisers Deloitte in July to help it find investors.

Speaking on Monday a spokeswoman for Wrightbus, which was co-founded by Sir William Wright, said it had no update on the next steps that will be taken.

One person in communication with Wrightbus said: “They’re still working very hard to see if anything can be salvaged there.”

"The administrator needs to be proactive with the parties that had expressed an interested in order to see what can be saved.”

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

Speaking in the House of Commons in July Mr Johnson vowed to do "everything we can" to save the company.

"It was of great value to the people of this country and I think it's a great company and we will make sure, I give my assurance, we will do everything we can to ensure the future of that great UK company," he said.

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