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National Express deal

Easdales snap up Dundee buses to create UK leader

Sandy Easdale McGill's

Sandy Easdale: ‘clear vision’

Scottish brothers Sandy and James Easdale have announced a second deal within 24 hours after acquiring the Dundee bus operations of National Express.

The bus service will become part of the Easdales’ Greenock-based McGill’s business and will make it the biggest UK independent bus operator in the UK.

It will be licensed to operate 850 buses, have 1200 employees and a turnover of £60m.

The business trades in Dundee under the Xplore Dundee brand for bus travel and Xplore More for coach travel.  There are 350 employees and a fleet of 120 buses. The business turns over more than £18m and is based at the East Dock Street site that it has occupied since being owned by the council.

Ralph Roberts, CEO of McGill’s Buses, said: “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.”

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 recorded more than 30 million passenger journeys in 2019.

Last March, McGill’s unveiled 26 low-emission buses bought from Alexander Dennis in a £4.75m purchase. That acquisition took McGill’s capital investment since 2014 to more than £30m – almost £24m of that on new vehicles.

McGill’s Buses deal for Xplore Dundee and Xplore More caps an extraordinary year of activity for the Easdale brothers, with this week’s announcement of an extensive waterfront site at Dumbarton also bringing their total construction projects to well over £400m.

Sandy Easdale said: “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.”

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