Gibson Direct ceased trading abruptly following the presentation of a winding up petition against the Renfrew operator to Paisley Sheriff Court on 5 April. Kenneth Craig and Kenneth Pattullo of Begbies Traynor were appointed as joint provisional liquidators of the business the following day.
Mr Pattullo says: “Unfortunately, like many other sectors, transport services have suffered from the impact of COVID-19 with multiple lockdowns resulting in businesses facing periods without revenue.
“We are currently in the process of realising any assets we can to provide the best return for creditors, as well as liaising with councils and alternative operators to help minimise disruption and cover school bus services.”
He adds that Gibson Direct was “severely affected by the repeated withdrawal of school bus services over the [past] two years,” and that the revenue loss caused “proved to be too heavy a burden for the business to bear.”
In June 2020, Renfrewshire Council told routeone that where home-to-school contracts were not required to operate because of closures relating to COVID-19, it would (via Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT), which manages those contracts) pay 75% of the agreed rate “in order to support the immediate cashflow requirements of operators.”
That contingency was to last until the end of the 2019/20 academic year, subject to the businesses concerned continuing to employ and pay staff.
After Gibson Direct ceased trading, SPT confirmed that the operator’s sole tendered bus route had been taken on by McColl’s of Dumbarton under an emergency arrangement.
For home-to-school duties, SPT said on 11 April that it is working on behalf of Renfrewshire Council to ensure continuity by sourcing alternative operators to run those services “on a temporary basis.”
Despite local press reports suggesting that the business ran around 50 coaches and buses, the Gibson Direct O-Licence has an authorisation of 36, a figure it was curtailed to indefinitely following a Public Inquiry on 13 November 2019. A request to surrender the licence is currently under consideration, according to the digital Vehicle Operator Licensing service.