1. ITV Report

Wrightbus facing liquidation ‘if deal not agreed today’

Wrightbus workers wait anxiously in the rain for news of the company's fate. Credit: Pacemaker

A prospective Wrightbus buyer has said he understands that the bus-building company will go into liquidation on Friday if a deal cannot be agreed.

English industrialist Jo Bamford, son of JCB chairman Lord Bamford, was bidding for the company, but said in a statement that his offer had been refused.

“At 10am this morning, I made an offer to the Wright family to match the asking price for the Wrightbus factory and land,” he said.

“This includes a sum to match the amount that the factory and associated land was purchased for two years ago from JTI.

“Mr Wright has since refused this offer and has now asked for a significantly higher sum of money.”

We want to save this business and put it on a sustainable footing, but regrettably if this offer is not agreed today, we understand that the business will go into liquidation tomorrow.

– Jo Bamford

Earlier, Jeff Wright, who owns the factory premises, said it was "deeply regrettable" that a prospective sale had not been completed for the administration-hit operation.

He insisted he had been willing to sell the factory and associated lands, but claimed the issue of dispute involved unrelated farmlands belonging to his family.

“The failure by Mr Bamford's Ryse Hydrogen company to complete the deal to purchase Wrightbus is deeply regrettable, especially after the exhaustive efforts all of us involved have gone to in providing every possible support,” he said.

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Mr Wright said it was “disingenuous” to suggest his family were creating barriers to a deal.

“For the record, the entire premises at Glagorm, including the factory, fixtures and fittings, as well as the land, was agreed to be made available to all bidders, either to lease or purchase,” he said.

The company, well known for building London buses, was placed into administration last month with the loss of 1,200 jobs.

Efforts to find a buyer have been complicated by the fact that the Wrightbus factory is under separate ownership from the business itself and therefore not controlled by the administrators.

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Meanwhile, Unite regional officer for Wrightbus George Brash earlier said that the workforce had been left bewildered by developments.

"Hundreds of Wrightbus workers and their families are standing in the rain outside the factory gates," he said.

"They are standing in the hope they will hear that a deal has been done that will guarantee their jobs.

"These are workers who are already having difficult conversations with their children about what Christmas will bring.

"As these negotiations are being dragged out by horse-trading, the feeling of indignation among these workers, whose sole objective is to get back to work, is rising."