FirstGroup has split its South West and Wales region into four separate business units. The move is part of First’s strategy to ensure its businesses are responsive to the needs of customers and other local stakeholders. Each of the new units is to be headed by an MD who will report directly to the Chief Operating Officer UK Bus, Jeroen Weimar. The boundaries of the different operating areas have also been changed slightly. Somerset will become part of the Devon and Cornwall operating area for operational purposes, while Berkshire will be incorporated in the current Hampshire and Dorset business.
Justin Davies, who is the current Regional MD for the South West and Wales, will be moving to manage the Cymru business. Described as a critical role for First, Justin’s new responsibilities will see him oversee the changes, particularly around funding streams, that are currently taking place within the Welsh bus industry. The company is now recruiting for a permanent MD for the Bristol and Avon business. In the meantime, the region will be managed by Paul Matthews, the area’s current Service Delivery Director.
Marc Reddy has been appointed as MD for Hampshire, Dorset and Berkshire. Marc will be supported in this role by Chris Bainbridge, the current Service Delivery Director for the South Coast. Alex Carter has been appointed as the new Director for Devon, Cornwall and Somerset. He has worked in the bus industry for more than 25 years, having spent the past six months working with First on business development. He will be supported in the role by the current General Manager for Devon and Cornwall, Robbie Lamerton.
Chief Operating Officer UK Bus, Jeroen Weimar, said, ‘We are making these changes because we recognise the unique circumstances, dynamics and requirements of the cities, towns and villages that we serve across the South West and South Wales. We are keen to build on the good relationships we have with our customers and local stakeholders to ensure that we can meet and exceed their expectations going forward. We therefore want to create more flexible and responsive businesses which, under strong local leadership, will deliver even better customer service and position us for growth in these important markets.’
‘We would stress that these internal changes will not impact on the day to day operations of our business, but will enable our senior management team to work more closely with the local markets that they are responsible for. In Bristol, the changes will not impact on the current fare consultation process that is underway. This will continue as planned, with the outcome of the consultation made public in the autumn. Furthermore I would add that the change in Justin Davies’ role is a strategic one, recognising the skill that he can offer in managing the Welsh business while it goes through a significant period of change.’