FIRSTGROUP yesterday placed a £76 million order for more than 460 buses, with the lion’s share of the contracts awarded to Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis.
The manufacturer, part-owned by Sir Brian Souter of FirstGroup’s rival Stagecoach, will deliver 222 buses with Ballymena-based Wrightbus supplying a further 179.
Warwick-based Volvo UK and Leeds company Optare have also secured orders.
Giles Fearnley, managing director of First UK Bus, said the orders showed investment in FirstGroup’s bus division “continues apace.”
“These buses will see our investment reach some £240m in nearly 1,500 vehicles over the last three years. This is enabling us to make a step change in the quality of service that we offer.”
Fearnley said he was delighted the company continues to support domestic bus manufacturers with more than 95 per cent of its 2013-14 fleet order going to UK suppliers.
“Our manufacturing partners continue to lead the world in terms of quality and value for money.”
Colin Robertson, chief executive of Alexander Dennis, which employs 900 at its Falkirk site, said: “We are delighted to be supplying almost 50 per cent of FirstGroup’s total new vehicle requirement this year.
“It is an endorsement of our class-leading products and the business relationship we have grown and nurtured with FirstGroup in recent years, working with them to raise the bar for the whole industry.”
More than 140 of the buses it will build for FirstGroup are highly-fuel efficient, Enviro300 single deckers.
FirstGroup said that all the latest vehicles ordered will be fitted with wi-fi. Shares in FirstGroup closed down 0.4p at 191.3p.