National Express has sold its Xplore Dundee bus operation to Greenock-based McGill’s Buses, for an undisclosed sum, making it the UK’s largest independent bus operator.
When the deal completes (expected to be 23 or 24 December), McGill’s will be licenced to operate 850 buses, have 1,200 employees and a turnover of £60m.
Xplore Dundee and Xplore More has 350 employees and a fleet of 120 buses and has an annual turnover of £18m.
Founded in 2001, McGill’s is owned by Scottish businessmen Sandy and James Easdale.
Sandy Easdale (pictured) says: “We have a clear vision for growth and profitability and we are able to conclude deals speedily and with the minimum of fuss. This is the way we have always worked.”
McGill’s chairman James Easdale said: “The Xplore acquisition is a perfect fit for us. Whilst others are shying away from investment, we are always looking for new opportunities in both construction and transport.”
McGill’s CEO Ralph Roberts says: “We are purchasing the shares of the company and all activities will carry on as normal. There are no immediate plans to change the branding of the buses.”
For customers of Xplore Dundee, and its coach travel arm Xplore More, it will be “business as usual”, with its network plans and fares freeze to go ahead as planned.
Xplore Dundee managing director Christine McGlasson says: “We have enjoyed 23 years as part of the National Express Group.
“Under McGill’s we can continue to recover and grow our business with another Scottish operator at the helm, experiencing similar conditions and under the same authorities as our own.
“Xplore Dundee is a strong, resilient business with an excellent team of people within it.
“I have no doubt we will continue in our mission to provide a top class public transport service for the people of this city.”
McGill’s Buses has grown rapidly during the past decade following its purchase of Arriva Scotland West in a landmark deal in March 2012.
The group carried more than 30 million passenger journeys in 2019.
In March, McGill’s invested £4.75m in 26 low-emission buses from Alexander Dennis, taking capital investment since 2014 to more than £30m.