Bus builder Alexander Dennis sees sales surge

Alexander Dennis will build in excess of 2,600 buses this year. Picture: PA
Alexander Dennis will build in excess of 2,600 buses this year. Picture: PA
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Bus builder Alexander Dennis has forecast a 20 per cent jump in turnover to £600 million this year.

Speaking at the Coach & Bus Live event in Birmingham, chief executive Colin Robertson said that 2015 was shaping up to be a record year for output, turnover, profitability and growth in international territories for the Falkirk-headquartered firm which employs 900 in Scotland.

Over the past 12 months, Alexander Dennis has won a steady 46 per cent share of the UK bus market and, with busy production lines and demanding delivery schedules for the coming quarter, Robertson said he expects the firm to stay ahead of its rivals at the year’s end.

He added: “This year we will build in excess of 2,600 buses, twice that of our principal UK manufacturing competitor. These vehicles will be split 50-50 between home and export markets.

“All of that will push our turnover up from £500m in 2014 to £600m this year and, similarly, I expect to see a significant increase in our underlying profitability, a large part of which will fund our ongoing £15m investment programme.”

A consortium led by Sir Angus Grossart, Stagecoach co-founder Sir Brian Souter and former Rangers owner Sir David Murray bought Alexander Dennis in 2004 after its parent company, Transbus, went into administration.

The Highland Global Transport (HGT) investment portfolio set up by Souter and his sister Ann Gloag now owns nearly 58 per cent in the firm. Overall sales fell by 7 per cent to £503m in 2014. Excluding exceptional costs, underlying operating profits almost halved to £18.7m.

HGT is said to have held preliminary talks with HSBC and other investment banks about a possible sale of the bus business. These reports, which first appeared earlier this year, have been described as “speculation”.