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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Green pioneer Wrightbus contributes £1.5bn to UK economy

Wrightbus factory

The rebirth of iconic bus-maker Wrightbus has contributed more than £1.5 billion to the UK economy thanks to its support for home-grown suppliers and a UK workforce.


Wrightbus has sourced supplies for its award-winning buses from 47 counties across the United Kingdom, generating millions of pounds in revenue for businesses producing everything from heating systems and powertrains to laser cutting and fabrication.



The company’s growth – named by the Growth Index as the fastest-growing large manufacturer in the UK – has enabled scores of suppliers to grow too, generating thousands of jobs across the value chain.


Wrightbus Chief Executive Jean-Marc Gales said having a UK based workforce with UK suppliers was crucial to the company’s success.


“Every pound generated by Wrightbus creates another £3 in the wider economy and every job here ensures another three jobs are safe across the supply chain,” he explained proudly.


“The knock-on effect is tremendous and really proves the impact of buying British at every level. When operators buy a Wrightbus they’re not just buying a class-leading product or our first-class expertise, they’re buying something that supports the whole of the UK.”



Wrightbus has come a long way since it was rescued out of administration by Jo Bamford in 2019. 


Now, on the back of five landmark deals in Germany, revenues jumping to £540m and a workforce heading towards 2,000 people, the company has set his sights on further expansion. 


“The business is growing very fast and I am really proud of what we have achieved over the last 12 months because every order, whether home or abroad, guarantees jobs across the UK,” Jean-Marc explained. 


“Our growth is thanks to the incredible support we receive from our customers and of course from our workforce. We could not achieve this growth without the commitment of each and every one of them.”



Production has ramped up to keep pace with orders – 22 buses being produced a week compared to eight two years ago. That figure is expected to rise to 26 buses by the end of next year. 


“Wrightbus is nothing without its army of suppliers who have been instrumental in enabling this business to over-perform,” he said.


One of those businesses is McKenna Brothers, a family business in Manchester supplying LED destinations, vehicle graphics and next stop announcements, with all the software that goes with it.


Thanks to a strong order book from Wrightbus, a seven-year contract with Transport for Greater Manchester and the incoming new accessibility regulation, business is booming.



“Our revenues for the first two months of this year are already ahead of where we were for the whole of2023,” said Sales Director John Hartley.


“A strong public transport sector has a huge impact down the supply chain. If the industry does well, we all do well.


“McKenna Brothers has gone from 30 employees to 45 in the last few years and we’re constantly investing in the business to ensure we’re at the top of our game. 


“Public transport is leading the charge to a net-zero future and it’s bringing UK jobs and prosperity along with it.”



Ian Paisley, the sitting Democratic Unionist Party MP for North Antrim before the General Election was called, added his support to the success story.


"We have seen over the last five years how Wrightbus has not only generated new, well-paid, highly-skilled jobs for the people of Ballymena but shown the rest of the world the way forward in zero-emissions transport," he explained.


“This is a future-facing, clean-tech manufacturing business that’s here for the long-term, thriving at the core of our community.”


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