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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Articulate Galway man tasked with bringing Bus Éireann back from the brink

Bus Éireann acting CEO Ray Hernan arrives at Leinster House yesterday to appear before the Dáil’s Transport Committee Photo: Tom Burke
Bus Éireann acting CEO Ray Hernan arrives at Leinster House yesterday to appear before the Dáil’s Transport Committee Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

Ray Hernan is the Galway man who has to drive Bus Éireann back from a financial cliff while keeping it at the heart of the community and avoiding an all-out strike along the way.

And for his trouble, he told the Dáil Transport Committee yesterday he had not fully negotiated his pay package yet. But if it is anything like the last man's - former CEO Martin Nolan's - basic pay will be in the region of €180,000 to €190,000 a year.

Originally from Ballygar, he has held prominent roles at Arnotts, Ryanair and Brown Thomas.

He qualified as a chartered accountant with KPMG in 1989 and worked for the IAWS Group before joining pre-flotation Ryanair as it expanded from a carrier for three million people to a European-wide service for 40 million passengers.

He held the role of financial controller and later became director of finance.

He became chief financial officer of the Brown Thomas Group in 2006 and took on the role of director of finance of Selfridges and Brown Thomas, based in London.

In 2010, he returned from London to take a senior position at Arnotts after Anglo Irish Bank and Ulster Bank took control of the company.

He was tasked with stabilising the company's finances. In 2013, he was appointed CEO and held that position until it was sold to Selfridges at the end of 2015.

Read More: Bus Eireann 'will be out of business by the end of the year without survival plan'

He is articulate and powerful in his delivery, but his management approach has been a little scattered in recent weeks. Just a week or two ago, Mr Hernan warned that the company could be insolvent in 18 months. Yesterday, he said it could be before the end of the year.

He also changed estimates on the losses for last year from €6m to around €9m in a matter of days. In addition, the company's attempt to get a Labour Court intervention to fast track its cost-cutting plan seems to have backfired despite spending large sums on consultants for advice.

Mr Hernan has admitted that an in-cab telematics system, which could cut fuel costs by €350,000 a year, is not being used on all buses.

But he has practical ideas that are hard to argue with, including stopping the maintenance of buses during the day, when they could be on the road delivering passengers.

Irish Independent

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