Wrights turnover cut to £264.4m as city bus or­ders slow down

Belfast Telegraph - Business Telegraph - - News - BY MAR­GARET CAN­NING

CO ANTRIM bus gi­ant Wrights Group has pointed to a slow­down in or­ders from some English cities as it re­ported a 4% fall in turnover to £264.4m for 2016.

The Bal­ly­mena firm, which has over 1,800 staff and is one of North­ern Ire­land’s big­gest man­u­fac­tur­ers, also had a 9% fall in pre-tax profits to £10.7m.

In a strate­gic report, com­pany chair­man Mark Nod­der said there had been a slow­down in de­mand for new buses in some English and Welsh cities, as there were to be changes to bus reg­u­la­tion.

How­ever, or­ders for its fa­mous Lon­don bus — as cham­pi­oned by For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son in his old job as the city’s mayor — were in line with pas­sen­ger growth.

Mr Nod­der said that in gen­eral terms, the group was per­form­ing well, de­spite eco­nomic un­cer­tainty and ex­change rate fluc­tu­a­tions.

“Our ex­pand­ing cus­tomer base and com­pre­hen­sive prod­uct range have en­sured sta­bil­ity and mod­est growth.”

In­ter­na­tional op­er­a­tions were also strong, with dou­ble-decker bus bod­ies sup­plied to Volvo for cus­tomers in Hong Kong and Sin­ga­pore. It has opened an as­sem­bly fa­cil­ity in Malaysia, which is up and run­ning, with the com­pany “well placed to de­velop new op­por­tu­ni­ties in the Asia Pa­cific re­gion”.

The com­pany also works with Daim­ler in In­dia, where buses with body­work by Wright­bus In­ter­na­tional are also pro­duced.

How­ever, the com­pany stressed there was “global” com­pe­ti­tion for bus man­u­fac­tur­ing and that the com­pany was im­prov­ing cost-com­pet­i­tive­ness and pro­duc­tion ef­fi­ciency at all its man­u­fac­tur­ing sites. “Look­ing for­ward, the group’s vi­sion is to shape the fu­ture of pub­lic trans­port sys­tems through­out the world, and we aim to do this through ex­cel­lence in qual­ity, de­sign and in­no­va­tion.”

Staff num­bers had also in­creased by about 120 over the year to reach 1,861. The com­pany, which is based at Fe­naghy Road in Bal­ly­mena, had also launched the first hy­dro­gen-pow­ered dou­ble-decker bus dur­ing the year.

It de­clared div­i­dends of £4m which were paid to par­ent com­pany The Cornerstone Group. The firm also spent £6.5m on re­search and de­vel­op­ment, up from £6.1m the year be­fore. The com­pany said that “con­tin­ued in­vest­ment in re­search and de­vel­op­ment... po­si­tion the group to take ad­van­tage of in­creas­ing de­mand for low and zero emis­sion buses”.

Last year, the com­pany bought the Gal­gorm Road site of to­bacco firm JTI Gal­la­her’s af­ter it closed.

For­mer Lon­don Mayor Boris John­son on a visit to Wright­bus

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