McGill’s to take over NatEx Dundee operations
Deal set to create the UK’s largest independent operation
Greenock-based McGill’s Buses is understood to be taking over the operations of Xplore Dundee-branded operations of National Express.
The deal is subject to completion by the end of the year. It will see the sale of the Xplore Dundee bus operation and its sister coach operation, Xplore More, to the independent operator.
The National Express-owned operator has 350 employees and a fleet of 120 buses. The business turns over more than £18m and is based at the East Dock Street site that it has occupied since being owned by the council. The group carried more than 30million passenger journeys in 2019.
McGill’s, owned by the entrepreneurial brothers, Sandy and James Easdale, will be licenced to operate 850 buses, have 1,200 employees and will have a turnover of £60m. McGill’s Buses claims the deal will make it the biggest UK independent bus operator.
McGill’s Buses has grown rapidly during the past decade following its purchase of Arriva Scotland West in a landmark deal in March 2012.
Last March, McGill’s unveiled 26 low-emission buses bought from Alexander Dennis in a £4.75 million purchase. That acquisition took McGill’s capital investment since 2014 to more than £30 million – almost £24 million of that on new vehicles.
“We are purchasing the shares of the company and all activities will carry on as normal” – Ralph Roberts, CEO of McGill’s Buses
McGill’s Buses deal for Xplore Dundee and Xplore More caps an extraordinary year of activity for the Easdale brothers, with this week’s announcement of an extensive waterfront site at Dumbarton also bringing their total construction projects to well over £400m.
Ralph Roberts, CEO of McGill’s Buses, said: “We are purchasing the shares of the company and all activities will carry on as normal. There are no immediate plans to change the branding of the buses.”
Sandy Easdale said: “We have a clear vision for growth and profitability and we are able to conclude deals speedily and with the minimum of fuss. This is the way we have always worked.”
McGill’s chairman, James Easdale, said: “The Xplore acquisition is a perfect fit for us. Whilst others are shying away from investment, we are always looking for new opportunities in both construction and transport.”