First Bus appoints new Managing Director as Giles Fearnley steps aside

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First Bus Managing Director Giles Fearnley, is to retire following a long career in the industry. He will be succeeded by Janette Bell, who joins the Group in October.

Giles has been Managing Director of First Bus since February 2011. Since then, he has further digitised working practices at the operator, investing in fleets and systems along the way.

Janette Ball will succeed Giles Fearnley as First Bus MD

In 2018, the company became the first major operator to offer contactless payment across its entire network nationwide.

Giles also developed a strong approach to community partnership, working closely with local authorities and stakeholders to shape the company’s offering to meet the needs of passengers.

Janette was previously Chief Executive Officer of P&O Ferries. Having joined in 2012 as Commercial Director, she was a key part of the executive team that devised and led a significant transformation of the business, including resetting the commercial agenda and delivering a profitable e-commerce strategy.

She became CEO in 2018, and under her leadership the company delivered a significant change programme, establishing a new on-board proposition for customers, driving greater efficiencies and placing its first order for new ferries in over a decade.

Most recently Janette led P&O Ferries through extensive preparations for the UK leaving the EU and its response to the coronavirus pandemic.

FirstGroup Chief Executive Matthew Gregory commented: “I am delighted Janette Bell is joining us as First Bus Managing Director. She brings vast experience and a strong track record in creating and delivering successful customer and commercial strategies, making her the right person to build on the progress achieved so far as we work towards our ambition to be the partner of choice for innovative, sustainable transport.

“Vibrant local transport networks are critical to economic growth and I know Janette will ensure our customers receive the best possible service and that our buses continue to play a key role in supporting communities to deliver a connected, healthy and zero-carbon world.

“I’d like to thank Giles Fearnley for his immense contribution to FirstGroup and the wider public transport sector. His leadership during the coronavirus crisis has helped ensure First Bus can continue to provide essential services and emerge from the current situation in the most robust position possible. We have all benefited greatly from his experience and knowledge over time, and he leaves with our warmest wishes for a long and happy retirement.”

Janette Bell commented: “I’m delighted to be joining First Bus and excited about the opportunities that lie ahead. I know there is a bright future for the high-quality, low-carbon services that we bring to communities across the UK. I look forward to continuing the work of the team as we provide better and simpler journeys for our customers, and create a stronger, successful and sustainable business for the future.”

Giles Fearnley commented: “It has been a great privilege to lead First Bus for approaching 10 years. With the recent advances we have made in our innovative customer offering; strong partnership working with local authorities and now with our roadmap to a zero-emission fleet in place, it is the right time for me to retire and hand over to Janette who, with the help of our dedicated and hard-working team, will ensure that First Bus maintains its critical role in our communities for years to come.”

Janette will join First Bus on 26 October enabling a handover process to take place between her and Giles, who will leave later in the year.