First Scotland East business sold to McGill’s

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The sale includes the Edinburgh sightseeing operations of Bright Bus Tours. JONATHAN WELCH











Scottish independent operator McGill’s is continuing its expansion with the purchase of First’s central Scottish operations

In a surprise move, McGill’s Group will take over the First Scotland East business from 19 September. The sale, which will complete later in the month, includes First Bus depots in Livingston, Larbert, Bannockburn and Balfron, as well as its Edinburgh Bright Bus Tours open-top sightseeing operation. It also includes all of First’s buses which currently operate in the region and approximately 550 staff.

First Bus will retain a presence in Scotland with long-established businesses in Aberdeen and Greater Glasgow and says it is now concentrating on driving passenger recovery and growth across both of those networks following the pandemic and delivering on its commitment to a fully zero-emission fleet by 2035. Duncan Cameron, Managing Director of First Bus in Scotland, said: “I’d like to thank our employees for their continued hard work to deliver the best experience possible for our customers across the First Scotland East business. We will be supporting them fully as they transfer to their new employer.

“This sale is part of a strategic refocusing of our Scottish businesses with significant investment in zero-emission buses in Glasgow and Aberdeen. We’re pleased that McGill’s, which is a trusted Scottish bus operator brand, will take the Scotland East business forward and wish them every success. We will continue to operate our services as usual until the handover date, working closely with McGill’s and with our local authority partners, and continuing our commitment to our customers through the service we offer them.”

Owned by Scottish businessmen Sandy and James Easdale, McGill’s has invested heavily in its business and services, including the recent purchase of Xplore Dundee from National Express and its partnership with coach operator FlixBus on long distance routes. James Easdale, Chairman of McGill’s Bus Group, said: “Everyone at McGill’s Group is excited about welcoming Scotland East into our stable and the opportunities that lie ahead. Our team is passionate about using our expertise to build the business in the years ahead so we can retain and attract new passengers across the region. We’re pleased the opportunity has arisen to acquire the business and we appreciate the efforts of First Bus towards ensuring a smooth transition.”

Ralph Roberts, CEO of McGill’s Bus Group, said: “We would like to welcome all First Scotland East employees into the McGill’s family. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be engaging with our new colleagues for feedback and also listening to the views of local stakeholders as we seek to deliver the best bus service possible. We firmly believe that we can combine the advantages of the McGill’s Group with unique local transport brands and we will be announcing further details on that post-completion.”

Founded in 1936, McGill’s has depots in Greenock, Inchinnan, Johnstone as well as the Dundee operation. The company has worked closely with the Prince’s Trust on the ‘Get Into Bus Engineering’ scheme, to allow younger workers an opportunity to become engineers and is also accredited as an Investor in Young People.

All vehicles and staff from the four depots will transfer to McGill’s. RICHARD WALTER
First Scotland East operates over a wide area of the Central Belt, including Stirling, Falkirk and Edinburgh. RICHARD WALTER