FirstGroup acquires York Pullman Bus Company

Aberdeen-based FirstGroup plc announced it has signed an agreement to acquire York Pullman Bus Company Ltd, a business comprising five coach services brands.

“York Pullman has a strong presence in regional and adjacent services operations in York and surrounding towns in North Yorkshire,” said FirstGroup.

“The acquisition plays strongly into the group’s strategy, providing profitable growth opportunities in adjacent services contracted and commercial markets, with the ability to develop this into other locations across the UK.

“York Pullman provides home-to-school and college contracted services and private hire operations including rail replacement services, and operates a small number of local bus routes on behalf of several local authorities, complementary to the operations of First Bus in York.

“It has a mixed fleet of more than 130 vehicles with varying passenger capacity which has enabled it to build a broad range of customers. For the year ended 31 December 2022, York Pullman reported revenues of c.£10m and EBIT of c.£2m.”

FirstGroup said York Pullman managing director Tom James will remain with the company as MD and continue to run it on a standalone basis “as well as contributing to the development of the First Bus coach services growth strategy, with synergy benefits and support from the First Bus executive team.”

FirstGroup added: “Following the completion of the acquisition the group anticipates that its FY 2024 year-end adjusted net cash position will be £60-70m, with c.£30m of the ongoing share buyback programme still to be completed.”

FirstGroup CEO Graham Sutherland said: “A key pillar of our strategy is to grow and diversify our portfolio.

“The acquisition of York Pullman, a long- established, high-performing business fits well with our strategy as it will both enhance the First Bus operational footprint in North Yorkshire and expand our adjacent services business, where we are looking to grow our presence.”