Alexander Dennis' Enviro200

UK bus manufacturer takes over Australian firm

UK bus and coach manufacturer Alexander Dennis (ADL) has bought Australian firm Custom Coaches in a deal understood to be worth around £25 million.

The deal sees ADL take 100 per cent control of the company, which is based in Sydney and has annual sales of around £55 million, a 24 per cent share of the Australian bus market and employs over 400 people at manufacturing sites in Sydney, New South Wales, and Adelaide.

The acquisition comes weeks after ADL signed a major joint venture with Canada-based New Flyer Industries which makes heavy-duty buses.

ADL chief executive Colin Robertson said the Australian deal was “another significant step in our strategy to diversify and grow the business”.

“It will see our group turnover increase to around £500 million per annum, a three-fold multiple in just five years, and position us well to become a major player in the southern hemisphere.

"The Custom brand is an icon in the Australian bus body market, having been part of the transport landscape for 50 years. It has history, heritage and a reputation for quality products and putting customers first. These are the fundamentals of our business philosophy at ADL (Alexander Dennis Limited) and we will build on them as we bid to turn a successful brand into a great Australian business.

"Our strategy will be to invest in people, processes and products; to exploit the synergies between our companies, particularly in terms of product and technology transfer; and to further strengthen the reputation we have elsewhere in the world for best-in-class customer support," Robertson said.

ADL employs 900 people in Falkirk, 300 in Guildford, 500 in Scarborough and 300 at sites elsewhere in the UK and the rest of the world.

Custom Coaches managing director Mark Burgess said: “Becoming part of the ADL family simply makes sense. We have revitalized our Custom product range with the introduction of new city and school bus models in the last year but the bringing together of Custom and ADL will open up a whole new raft of opportunities.  

“There are clear synergies between the two companies. Custom is well established with state governments in Australia, corporate bus clients and family-run operations. We know the market intimately, while ADL is a recognized world leader in light-weight, fuel efficient vehicles, particularly midi buses and double decks. It is also admired globally for its focus on customer support.  Bringing these strengths together presents the opportunity to create a powerful new force in the Australian bus manufacturing sector.”

Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney said: "Scotland is recognised internationally for its excellence in engineering and it is fantastic news that Alexander Dennis, one of Scotland's leading manufacturers, is establishing new operations in North America and Australia.”

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