Wrightbus has delivered its first vehicles since acquisition by the Bamford Bus Company after production work restarted at the Ballymena plant. Its new owner says the development represents the start of efforts to “rebuild” the manufacturer.
Wrightbus entered administration earlier this year. After protracted negotiations it was purchased by Jo Bamford, son of industrial magnate Sir Anthony Bamford.
Stability focus for Wrightbus
The first of 36 units from a 55-strong order for First West Yorkshire have been finished and are in the process of delivery. Wrightbus’ new management team, including Chief Executive Buta Atwal, is now “focusing on stabilising the business” and growing it.
It is expected that a full production line will be running in the New Year. However, Mr Atwal adds that it in the short term it is “not likely that the company will employ as many people as it did before it entered administration.”
Around 1,200 staff were made redundant then. Wrightbus is currently recruiting for a variety of roles in disciplines including coachbuilding and painting. An engineering recruitment campaign has also begun. Wrightbus hopes to attract the “brightest and best” in that field.
According to his LinkedIn profile, Mr Atwal is also Chief Operating Officer of Ryse Hydrogen. That company is owned by Jo Bamford and is concerned with the supply of hydrogen for fuel cell electric buses. Prior to that he held senior positions with JCB group companies.
‘Signal of intent’
Speaking about the First West Yorkshire vehicles, Mr Atwal says: “The delivery of these buses, the first since the acquisition of Wrightbus by the Bamford Bus Company, is a clear signal of our intent to drive forward the Wrightbus business.”
Political will and a focus on decarbonisation will be key in Wrightbus’ future, he adds. It has “the opportunity to lead the way” based on its existing track record with fuel cell electric, battery electric and diesel-electric hybrid models.