1,200 jobs lost as iconic bus firm put into administration
Wrightbus, maker of London's red double-deckers and one of Northern Ireland's largest manufacturers, was placed into administration yesterday with most of its 1,250 staff set to lose their jobs.
The Unite union called on UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who as mayor of London bought a fleet of 600 so-called "Boris buses" from Wrightbus in 2012, to intervene to save the company.
"This morning, Wrightbus entered administration as all potential bidders had withdrawn from a sales process," said Unite regional secretary Jackie Pollock.
"Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made great play about how he stands strong for British industry. He must now intervene to safeguard these workers' jobs and skills and a future for Ballymena by nationalising this business."
A former spokeswoman for Wrightbus declined to comment, directing all media queries to Deloitte, which is to oversee the administration, a form of creditor protection that often precedes bankruptcy.
Administrators Michael Magnay and Peter Allen, from Deloitte, said the various Wrightbus companies had around 1,250 employees and the lack of a buyer "unfortunately means approximately 1,200 redundancies are being made today".
In 2016, Wrightbus founder William Wright was the first major business leader in Northern Ireland to publicly back leaving the EU.
Local MP Ian Paisley Jnr, whose DUP party campaigned in favour of Brexit, yesterday denied that the UK's decision to leave the European Union had an impact on Wrightbus, noting that its biggest customers were in the UK.
Mr Paisley described the decision to enter administration as "an absolutely tragic body blow for Ballymena".
But he said he expected the administration process would attract a buyer.
Wrightbus launched a new-look Routemaster red bus in London in 2012 to much fanfare, but the vehicle later attracted some complaints.