Optare stands firm

Optare remains confident about the future and is continuing its investment, despite a disappointing set of annual results.

For the year-ending 31 March turnover fell to £38.3m (2015: £57.7m) and its loss increased to £9.3m (2015: £4.8m).

Support from Ashok Leyland has given Optare stability in a “difficult market and substantial resources to invest,” says the firm. 

“We have the support of our parent company Ashok Leyland, which helped us tide over the volatile industry during the year, where Optare maintained its market share despite a decline in the single-deck industry volumes.” 

Optare adds: “Our focus continues to be on long-term growth.”

Says Commercial Director Robert Drewery: “The UK bus industry is facing many challenges currently. 

“The collapse in local government funding for public transport has forced operators to withdraw from unprofitable routes and 2016 has seen a number of high profile business failures. 

“The market is awash with redundant, used buses which has seen the new UK single-deck market drop by more than 40% year-on-year.

 “Although the market has been hit hard, Optare’s market share increased in 2016.” It says this has come from investment in aftersales and product quality at its Sherburn factory. 

“While the current market outlook is gloomy, we are confident that demand will return and we are investing in improved and new products to meet that demand,” adds Mr Drewry.

The period under review saw “significant investment and effort put in” widening Optare's product portfolio and improving product quality, which has now “prepared the company for a better future.”

It has also made its operations “more efficient” and “improved our resources in key areas which will deliver more value to our customers.”

Demonstration of its Metrodecker with major operators around the country continues. Says Mr Drewery: “We’ve had great feedback to date and are hoping for strong orders in 2017.

“We also continue to develop our EV range, working in partnership with customers, that has increased range by over 30%. 

“We plan to launch further EV innovations in the next 12 months in order to benefit from the rising demand for electric buses.”