Saturday 21 September 2019

Paddywagon goes green with order of electric buses

Switch to renewables: Paddywagon’s founder Cathal O’Connell
Switch to renewables: Paddywagon’s founder Cathal O’Connell

Gordon Deegan

PADDYWAGON is going green, the tourism company confirmed yesterday.

Cathal O'Connell, who founded Paddywagon in 1998, said the tour operator, known for its leprechaun-decorated tour buses, would order six electric buses early in 2020 and six more by the end of the year.

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While the electric vehicles initially would be used to operate Paddywagon's shorter-range day trips in the Dublin area, Mr O'Connell said the firm hoped to convert its entire fleet to renewable energy by 2024.

Paddywagon confirmed the plans to convert its current 60-coach fleet to electric following publication of its latest directors' report, which shows the Dublin-based company carried more than 250,000 sightseers last year, driving a 10pc increase in sales to €12.38m.

But higher operating costs meant pre-tax profits declined by 40pc to €739,095 in the 12 months to the end of October.

Mr O'Connell said in a statement yesterday that company turnover rose "due to expansion of routes, an increase in the number of tourists, and significant improvement in marketing and logistical aspects of our business through experience".

The company's coaches criss-cross daily from their Dublin hub to such tourist hot-spots as the Cliffs of Moher and Blarney Castle.

Mr O'Connell added that "word of mouth has led to a significant increase in the number of agents".

He attributed the profits slump principally to increased costs in wages and administration. Costs overall increased by 16pc to €11.48m.

"There will be an immediate order of six electric buses in the new year, increasing to 12 by the end of next year, with the goal of having all of our buses electric in four years as technology improves," Mr O'Connell said.

The business last year continued to expand as it paid out €1.2m for new assets.

This followed a pay-out of €579,480 under the same heading in 2017.

Passenger numbers grew by 15pc in the year to the end of June, compared with the first six months of 2018.

Payroll increased by 8pc to 119 employees as staff costs increased by 13.5pc to more than €3.1m.

The profit figures reflect non-cash depreciation costs of €1.16m.

Directors' pay last year remained static at €150,000.

The company recorded net profits of €624,550 after paying corporation tax of €114,545.

Irish Independent

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