Record overseas sales fuel earnings growth at bus firm

Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis sees surge in overseas sales. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis sees surge in overseas sales. Picture: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire
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Bumper international sales have helped annual profits at Falkirk-based bus maker Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) surge by 77 per cent.

The company, which recently landed a major order from Aberdeen’s FirstGroup, delivered a pre-tax profit of £23 million for 2015, up from £13m the previous year, according to latest accounts filed at Companies House.

Turnover motored ahead 20 per cent to £602m, with record overseas sales driven by a “buoyant” market in Hong Kong.

Chief executive Colin Robertson said: “We enjoyed record international vehicle revenues of £261m in 2015, an increase of 58 per cent on the £165m recorded in 2014, which itself was a record year.

“Of note is the Hong Kong market, which was buoyant in 2015 and by mid-2017 we will have delivered in excess of 2,500 of our MMC Enviro 500 since its launch in 2013. This is a remarkable achievement for the business, underlining the credentials of a product that is now the bedrock of our international business across Asia and North America.”

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

The company, which employs more than 2,300 people according to the latest accounts, up slightly on the year before, has also set up a chassis assembly plant in Toronto after winning a deal worth more than £260m to supply double-deckers to Metrolinx, the local transport authority.

On home turf, the company registered 1,228 new buses in the UK last year, an increase of 12 per cent on 2014’s total, helping vehicle revenues rise from £272m to £289m.

ADL commands about 43 per cent of the UK bus market, which it said was a “notable achievement” given the decision by Transport for London to continue buying a “significant” number of rival Routemaster vehicles, registering 375 last year.

“This dampened our sales in the capital, a market that is normally a strong one for ADL,” Robertson said.

“Sales in the provincial and retail sectors or the market were however stronger than 2014 and this helped to offset the difficult London market.”

He added: “In 2016 we will continue the momentum established in 2015. We expect to maintain our market share in the UK as we continue to build on our investment in our product line-up, industry-leading product reliability and best-in-class customer support.

“Although the Hong Kong market is starting to ease off from its peak levels, we have secured significant business in existing markets and a number of new markets that will help to offset this.”

In April, FirstGroup announced orders for £70m worth of new buses, the bulk of which will be built by Alexander Dennis.