Western Greyhound has announced the sale of the rest of its business following last week’s sale of its Liskeard outstation operation to Go-Ahead subsidiary, Plymouth CityBus. Michael Bishop, an entrepreneur from within the bus and coach industry, has purchased the entire share capital of Western Greyhound from its MD, Mark Howarth, his wife Mari and Robin Orbell. The deal safeguards 133 jobs. Financial terms for both deals have not been disclosed. The operation was publicly put up for sale a couple of months ago.
Western Greyhound, which currently carries 2.7m passengers a year in Cornwall and Devon, will continue with 65 buses and 133 employees from its freehold Summercourt depot, together with a small leased outstation at Wadebridge. Michael is appointed MD, and joined by Adam Smith as General Manager. Mark Howarth will carry on as a consultant to the business for a period of time due to his extensive experience and knowledge.
Michael said, ‘I am so pleased that we were able to work with Mark and his team to purchase Western Greyhound. The company has a very exciting future ahead of it and will continue to be a well respected local independent operator. We have identified areas of the business that would benefit from further development and investment to strengthen the commercial future of the company.’
Mark Howarth said, ‘It is always sad to take the decision to sell a company that one has started and built up over a period of 16 years. However, we are all now in our sixties and it is time for new management and ideas to be introduced into the business. As a Board, we were all keen to ensure that we sold Western Greyhound as a going concern and that the jobs of our hard-working and loyal staff could be protected. The decision to split the sale was because many staff wanted to see Western Greyhound return to a smaller, leaner and fitter operation.’
Western Greyhound has recently suffered from aggressive competition, including for staff which has seen many leave the business. The company has carried on though, despite the further difficulties of concessionary fares reimbursement cuts and two fires causing massive losses for the business.
Mark said, ‘These have been very difficult times and we apologise for any passengers who have been let down. We now move on and know that many passengers continue to support us as the small local operator and I thank everyone for that. On behalf of the Board, we are delighted with both these deals which will enable Western Greyhound to carry forward into the next phase of its development. I would like to publicly thank our incredibly loyal staff who have worked so hard under often extremely difficult circumstances, and I would like to thank the public and, indeed the rest of industry, for their loyal support over the past 16 years.’
Commenting on the deal, Chief Executive of Bus Users, Claire Walters, said, ‘We are extremely pleased that so many jobs will be saved at Western Greyhound, particularly in the current climate. Crucially for passengers in the region, the bus network will also be preserved, ensuring that local people can continue to access their own jobs, schools and services.’