Midland Classic bought by Rotala as group grows reach

Rotala purchases Midland Classic

Rotala has acquired Burton-upon-Trent operator Midland Classic. The acquisition is worth a total of £2.58m to the purchaser for a business that generated revenues of approximately £5.6m in the year to 31 July 2021.

Midland Classic – which operates around 60 vehicles on services in Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Staffordshire and employs around 110 staff – will immediately be renamed Diamond Bus (East Midlands) Ltd. It will be controlled from the Rotala head office in Tividale.

The purchase “represents an extension of the group’s business to a new territory in the East Midlands from which further growth will be targeted,” Rotala says in a statement.

Adds Rotala Chief Executive Simon Dunn: “Midland Classic is a sizeable, well-established business in an attractive bus territory. It represents the entry by Rotala into the East Midlands, which is a new market for the group.

“However, at the same time, geographically it is adjacent to our existing operations in the West Midlands and so easily managed from there. The business also has its own freehold depot from which we will look to further expand Rotala’s services as the recovery in passenger numbers post-COVID-19 continues.”

The purchaser adds that full integration of the Midland Classic business is expected by the end of Rotala’s current financial year on 30 November.

Midland Classic was founded by James Boddice in 2005. It grew significantly in 2016 with the purchase of Arriva’s operations from Burton and in 2019 was recognised by a Transport Focus passenger survey as the third-best bus operator in the UK.

Purchase of Midland Classic represents further growth for Rotala’s business in the Midlands. Early in 2022 it agreed to purchase the bus business and certain assets of Claribel Coaches, while in April it agreed to acquire the Excelbus operation of Johnsons Coach and Bus Travel.

In Rotala’s interim results for the six months to 31 May, Non-Executive Chairman John Gunn noted that the bus industry’s recovery period “should bring a healthy flow of opportunities to Rotala, much like the acquisitions made in the first half of FY2022, for both organic growth and acquisitions.”

Mr Dunn has confirmed that Mr Boddice is to leave the business. Former Midland Classic vehicles will be repainted into Diamond Bus’s blue livery.