Copthorne, West Sussex-based independent operator Southdown Buses has been purchased by Go-Ahead Group subsidiary Brighton and Hove Buses.
The deal brings approximately 25 buses and 43 members of staff. Go-Ahead says that Southdown will operate as a separate business unit within the group and initially retain its local identity, “although over time we anticipate altering the branding to Metrobus.”
Acquisition of Southdown represents further regional growth for Go-Ahead. It follows the purchase in late 2022 of Dartline Coaches of Clyst St Mary, which has been integrated into the group’s Go South West business but maintains its own identity.
Speaking about the latest deal, Brighton and Hove Buses Managing Director Ed Wills says: “Southdown is a great business serving communities in and around East Surrey, and we are looking forward to building upon its strengths. This is part of the Go-Ahead Group’s overall commitment to investment in the regional bus market across the UK.”
In a message to Brighton and Hove staff, Mr Wills notes that Engineering Manager Chris Leach and Operations Manager Ryan Tanner will oversee initial integration of the Southdown business. Former Southdown MD Steve Wallis has moved on from that role to Brighton and Hove, where will take charge of its Spirit of Sussex Coaches operation.
Says Mr Wallis: “As the former MD of Southdown Buses, I firmly believe that Brighton and Hove will take the business forward as part of its ongoing commitment to investing in bus services for the local community. I am really looking forward to joining the business and taking up the new and exciting challenge of leading Spirit of Sussex Coaches.”
Besides local bus service work, Southdown is prominent in the rail replacement fold. It was an early independent convert to contactless ticketing and had maintained a regular intake of new vehicles under Mr Wallis.
Having at one time included a used bus dealership as part of the Southdown business, that arm was split into Chartwell Bus and Coach Sales in 2016 under separate ownership. Southdown Buses has no link to the former Southdown Motor Services that became part of the National Bus Company.