Johnsons Coach and Bus Travel has agreed to sell its Excelbus operation to Rotala, where it will become part of the growing Diamond Bus West Midlands business.
The deal is expected to complete on 29 May. It will involve the transfer of all Excelbus commercial and tendered work alongside most drivers, some operating staff and 18 buses and other assets. The purchase will represent a second bout of expansion in rapid succession for Diamond Bus West Midlands, which recently completed the purchase of the bus business of Birmingham-based Claribel Coaches.
Agreement of the Excelbus acquisition by Rotala does not affect Johnsons’ activities in the coach sector. Those will continue with 45 vehicles with 180 staff. Sale of Excelbus will allow the Henley-in-Arden operator to focus its energies on “growing our coach business for the long term,” says Commercial Director John Johnson.
Operations Director Peter Johnson adds that the pending transition of buses to zero-emission technologies formed a major part of the operator’s decision to exit the bus market. In early 2020 a Yutong E10 battery-electric bus was trialled by Johnsons.
“We have decided that we must now focus on building our coach business in terms of holidays, day trips, private hire and school services,” adds Peter Johnson.
After completion of the purchase by Diamond Bus West Midlands, the Excelbus operation will be transferred to the new owner’s Redditch depot.
Buses are expected to be rebranded “rapidly” into the blue Diamond Bus livery, says Rotala Chief Executive Simon Dunn.
Writing in Rotala’s most recent annual report on 14 March, Chairman John Gunn again noted that the Alternative Investment Market-listed group remains keen to expand via both organic growth and acquisition.
Perhaps hinting that the Johnsons Excelbus and Claribel Coaches deals could not be the last for Rotala in the foreseeable future, Mr Gunn observes that movement elsewhere may be an indicator of “many others… at both large and small levels” across the wider industry in the short- to medium-term.