FirstGroup selling Manchester bus operations, Telegraph reports

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First Manchester Wright Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied Volvo B5LH, BN61MWK, passing through Manchester city centre.
First Manchester Wright Eclipse Gemini 2-bodied Volvo B5LH, BN61MWK, passing through Manchester city centre. ANDY STOPPARD

FirstGroup is in the process of selling off its Manchester bus operations, The Telegraph has reported.

Once delivering £100m in annual turnover, the report claims that the division is now worth as little as £20m, citing industry sources.

Although Manchester is FirstGroup’s fourth-largest regional bus network in terms of revenue, it has failed to deliver when it comes to operating profits.

According to Passenger Transport, in 2012/13 it generated £3,5m in operating profit from a £101m turnover. However, by 2017/18 revenues had slumped to £86m, and the company made a loss of £5.8m.

These figures now make it First’s worst-performing UK bus division.

As a result of its poor financial performance, it’s alleged that hundreds of vehicles from the Bury, Oldham and Bolton depots will be sold to a number of rival operators.

A FirstGroup spokesperson told CBW: “We don’t comment on market rumours or speculation. We keep all bus services, depots and the business portfolio under constant review so we can be responsive to changes in market conditions.”

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