Sunday 25 February 2018

'Boris Bus' maker imposes hiring freeze as it faces market reverses

Former London mayor Boris Johnson
Former London mayor Boris Johnson

John Mulgrew

The Northern Ireland bus maker visited by then London major Boris Johnson on his whistle-stop tour ahead of the Brexit vote is to impose a hiring freeze as part of a "rationalisation plan".

Brexit campaigner Boris Johnson visited a Wrightbus plant in Ballymena, Co Antrim, in February.

There he signed a £62m deal for 200 new Routemaster vehicles - dubbed Boris Buses by Londoners - in his then capacity as the city's mayor.

Now, however a Wrightbus company memo states that the group board is finalising changes to its "organisational structure".

It said this was in response to "challenges in both the local and overseas markets".

The group's last financial figures, for 2014, showed it made an annual profit of £14.5m on a turnover of £297m.

The letter added that the changes, which will reduce operating costs, will be communicated to staff in the coming weeks.

The company said it had no comment to make but it is understood the move is about maintaining competitiveness rather than dealing with any particular issue.

Wrightbus employs more than 1,500 people, mainly in Ballymena. It is due to publish financial results for 2015 in coming weeks.

Earlier this year the company co-founder William Wright said that it had secured a major deal with a Hong Kong bus company.

But the firm said it did not comment on deals which had not yet been confirmed.

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