Wrights Group: Administration as last hopes of survival flicker

22

All but 50 employees made redundant as last-gasp efforts to save Wrights Group firm continue

Wrights Group collapsed into administration last week after months of speculation surrounding the company’s future.

Around 1,200 employees were made redundant and work on part-finished buses stopped immediately. Union Unite estimates that a further 1,700 jobs in the supply chain are at risk.

It is understood that buyers of completed buses on the Ballymena site and those that are part-way through construction have not been given any information about when, or if, the vehicles will be delivered. Warranty and service support work has also ceased.

Vehicles for customers including First UK Bus and Go North East are present at the site awaiting shipment.

Administrator Deloitte said in a statement that it did not prove possible to find a buyer willing to take the business on as a going concern. Deloitte is exploring any remaining options for the business. If a sale is not forthcoming it will be wound down.

The Wright family has blamed reduced demand for buses in the UK for causing “significant loses”, which had been stood by the family for at least a year.

A spokesman added that work for far eastern markets that was originally scheduled to be carried out in the group’s Malaysian factory was undertaken in Ballymena to safeguard the workforce in Northern Ireland. It has been suggested that doing so contributed to the losses.

Addressing former employees outside the Wrightbus plant after administration was confirmed, founder Sir William Wright said that members of the Wright family had paid last week’s wages personally.

Sir William added that the company had enough orders to survive but that “it never had a chance” thanks to a bank’s refusal of support.