Alexander Dennis drives off with £100m buses contract

Bus builder Alexander Dennis has won a landmark deal, worth £100 million, from coach operator National Express that will support 2,000 jobs at the Falkirk-based firm.

The Falkirk based bus builder won a £100 million contract supporting 2,000 jobs. Picture: PA Wire
The Falkirk based bus builder won a £100 million contract supporting 2,000 jobs. Picture: PA Wire

The five-year contract is understood to be the largest order placed by a transport operator with a single supplier, and the Scottish Government said it would be a “shot in the arm” for the country’s bus-building industry.

Under the deal, Alexander Dennis will provide National Express with 600 buses, with some due to enter service in Dundee before the Commonwealth Games kick off on 23 July. The vehicles, a mix of double-deckers and smaller “midi” buses, will also operate in Coventry and the West Midlands.

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Education secretary Mike Russell said: “Alexander Dennis is a Scottish company that is leading the world with technology and quite literally offering career opportunities on a global basis. As well as underpinning production programmes and jobs over the next five years, the contract also provides a platform for skills training and the development of young apprentices into the world of manufacturing and engineering.”

The National Express deal comes on the heels of two recent bumper orders from Scottish rivals FirstGroup and Stagecoach, worth a combined £170m.

Aberdeen-headquartered FirstGroup unveiled a £70m order in January for 425 buses, 97 of which will be supplied by Alexander Dennis. Earlier this month, the firm won the lion’s share of work handed out by Perth-based Stagecoach, which is ploughing £100m into its fleet with an order for 570 vehicles.

Sir Brian Souter, co-founder and chairman of Stagecoach, has a stake in the bus maker through his private investment vehicle, which also has interests in Polish coach service Polski Bus and a Turkish ferry operator.

Alexander Dennis chief executive Colin Robertson said: “We are absolutely delighted to take our business relationship with National Express to a new level. Long-term contracts of this nature underpin manufacturing programmes and contribute to job security.

“They make so much sense, giving all parties a clear profile of expectations and financials. My instinct is that we will see more ‘partnerships’ like this in the years ahead.”

The firm employs about 900 at its Falkirk base, with a further 1,100 at its production facilities in Guildford and Scarborough. Each vehicle ordered by National Express will secure a worker’s job for a year. The buses will feature low-emission engines and high-definition CCTV systems

Phil Smith, managing director of the transport group’s operations in Dundee, said: “This deal will ensure the £100m invested on improvements to our services over the coming years will not just benefit our customers, who will have great new buses, but will also give the Scottish economy a big boost.

“The new buses will offer our customers a state-of-the-art, comfortable and environmentally friendly journey. We cannot wait to introduce some of these vehicles to the roads of Dundee later in the year.”

National Express is due to announce that it will be launching a 60 per cent discount for serving military personnel to make the journey to Armed Forces Day, which takes place in Stirling on 28 June.