Whittle Coach and Bus up for sale
Whittle Coach and Bus of Kidderminster has been put up for sale by its owners, Hull based EYMS Group, following several years of operating losses. EYMS Chairman, Peter Shipp, said he was ‘extremely disappointed’ at having to take this decision. The Group bought the company from Ron Whittle in 2004 with the intention of growing and developing it for the long term.
EYMS Group says it can no longer afford to support its Whittles subsidiary. According to the Group, competition in both bus and local coach markets has eroded Whittles’ financial situation. Other factors contributing to Whittle’s financial losses were identified as the 20% BSOG cut in 2012, as well as pressures on local authority budgets that have reduced concessionary travel reimbursement to bus operators and the money available for local authorities to support unprofitable services.
Whittles has an annual turnover of almost £4m, split between local bus services, coach operations, including day trips, private charter and holiday tours, and significant operations on contract to National Express. The Company employs over 50 full time staff plus a number of part time and casual employees. It operates 35 buses and coaches, predominantly Volvos and Darts.
Peter Shipp said, ‘Despite big efforts over the last few years it has not been possible to reduce the losses and after a great deal of soul searching we have decided that we have no option but to try and sell the business. Whilst it has not worked for us, it could well be that for one or more other operators perhaps based in the area, there could be some synergies which would make the operation worthwhile and we are contacting anyone we think might be interested in buying all or part of the business. It is important to stress that neither Whittles nor EYMS Group is in actual financial difficulties so payments to suppliers, and pay and all other monies due to our employees up to the date of sale or closure are not at any risk, and Whittles’ coach business will continue as normal at least until the end of the year.’
‘This is a huge disappointment for me but, of course, it will be an even bigger disappointment for the staff at Whittles and we will be giving them every opportunity to talk to our managers in the next few weeks so that they can discuss the issues which will undoubtedly affect them, and we will offer advice and practical help wherever we can.’