Jo Bamford will save troubled bus-maker Wrightbus from collapse after an 11th-hour deal was agreed in principle following “tricky negotiations”, the businessman said in a statement. It was revealed on Wednesday that Mr Bamford, a member of the industrial family behind JCB, had entered into exclusive talks to buy the company from administrator Deloitte.
Mr Bamford said on Friday morning that he was; “delighted to announce that… I have agreed terms on a deal in principle with the Wright family for the Wrightbus factory and land”. He added that a deal with Deloitte was still be concluded.
Describing it as a “momentous day”, George Brash from the Unite union said that there were “a lot of smiling faces at the moment”.
Thanking North Antrim MP Ian Paisley for his “hard work and diligence”, Mr Bamford described the negotiations as “tricky”. He added: “To the workers of Ballymena I salute your fortitude and patience.”
The move by Mr Bamford, who was among the bidders for Wrightbus before it plunged into insolvency proceedings threatening 1,300 jobs, had raised hopes that the company had a viable future.
Negotiations over rental payments were among the major sticking points that prevented a deal being reached before Wrightbus called in administrators. Wrightbus, which was established just after the Second World War, is best-known for having built London’s new Routemaster buses, which became known as “Boris buses” during Boris Johnson’s tenure as London mayor.
Wrightbus counts Volvo among its biggest remaining customers, with Mr Bamford said to believe there is scope to rebuild the business.