First gains OFT approval for Finglands acquisition

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First will finally take over the Finglands operation on February 9

First Manchester Ltd has been given Office of Fair Trading (OFT) approval to acquire the Manchester bus business of Finglands Coachways Ltd. The approval allows First Manchester to expand and strengthen its position in Greater Manchester while demonstrating its continued commitment to customers and stakeholders.

East Yorkshire Motor Services-owned Finglands operates commercial bus services and school contracts to the South and East of Manchester. First will takeover Finglands’ existing bus services from Sunday, February 9.

The acquisition includes the lease of the existing depot in Wilmslow Road, Rusholme, existing service registrations and the transfer of approximately 100 staff. The fleet of 41 vehicles is excluded from the sale although they will be used in the short-term to meet current service commitments. Further details regarding additional fleet investment will be made shortly.

One of the first improvements from February 9 will be the extension of the First Day and Week ticket area to include the Finglands network in South Manchester.  All existing Finglands tickets will still be available and details of other new developments will be provided in future announcements. First Manchester currently operates around 700 buses and employs 2000 staff. In the past 12 months First has lowered a number of its day, week and month fares in the Greater Manchester region by around 30% and has also made significant improvements in terms of its service delivery resulting in passenger volume growth of around 14% since the summer of last year.

Dave Alexander, Regional Managing Director for First in the North of England, said:  “This acquisition demonstrates our commitment to Greater Manchester and represents an excellent opportunity to further grow bus passenger volumes.

“We welcome new colleagues and customers and we look forward to working with them to further improve bus services in the communities of Greater Manchester.”