Wrights Group saved after last-minute deal with Jo Bamford

Agreement reached on sale of factory and land after ‘pragmatic’ negotiations wrap up

Wrights Group has been saved in a last-minute deal between Jo Bamford, son of billionaire industrialist Lord Bamford, and Jeff Wright.

The breakthrough came after an agreement was reached for Mr Bamford to purchase the Wrightbus factory in Ballymena and the land on which it sits. It had previously been reported that Mr Wright’s demands for the site had led to the collapse of earlier deals, including one with Mr Bamford.

In a statement, Mr Wright says the negotiations between the two men “involved pragmatism”. Before the deal was completed fears had been raised that no purchaser would be found, and that Wrights Group would be liquidated.

It is not yet known how many of the 1,200 former employees who were made redundant when Wrights Group went into administration will be recruited by the new owner.

It is also unclear what will happen to part-built buses that are within the factory, although it is believed that work to complete them will restart soon. Finished buses awaiting delivery are also on site. Clarity on warranty coverage for existing Wrightbus vehicles is also awaited.

The deal looks to secure the order for 20 hydrogen fuel cell double-deckers for Transport for London. Mr Bamford also owns Ryse Hydrogen, which along with Wrightbus is part of the H2 bus consortium. Both businesses are involved in the supply of the London vehicles.

The Belfast Telegraph has reported that Mr Wright, who is a pastor at Green Pastures Church, told worshippers that the sale of Wrights Group had been like the “long, slow tortuous and painful death of a loved one.”

Mr Wright also acknowledged that the company had been “bleeding from a lack of work”. Wrightbus had earlier brought assembly intended to have taken place in Malaysia into Ballymena to occupy the workforce there, a move that reportedly generated a significant loss.