McGill’s Buses has agreed a deal to purchase Xplore Dundee from National Express for an undisclosed sum. The sale will also include the Xplore More coach brand. When complete, it will make McGill’s the UK’s largest independent bus operator, with around 520 vehicles and 1,200 staff, and an annual turnover of £60m.

McGill’s Buses CEO Ralph Roberts says that activities at Xplore Dundee will “carry on as normal” after the deal is completed, which is expected before the end of 2020. He adds that there are “no plans to change the branding of the buses” at Xplore Dundee.

Brothers James and Sandy Easdale, who are the owners of McGill’s through the Easdale family’s Arranglen Ltd investment vehicle, say they have “a clear vision for growth and profitability.” James adds: “The Xplore Dundee acquisition is a perfect fit for us. While others are shying away from investment, we are always looking for new opportunities in both construction and transport.”

The deal to purchase Xplore Dundee will bring 120 buses and 350 staff into the McGill’s fold. The newly acquired business turns over more than £18m per annum and is based at an East Dock Street site that it has occupied since being municipally owned. National Express purchased the operator in 1997.

McGill’s carried over 30m passengers on its 400 vehicles in 2019. It has invested almost £24m in new buses since 2014. That includes £4.75m spent on 26 Alexander Dennis Enviro200s in 2019, which brought the average age of the McGill’s fleet down to below seven years.