Horseman Coaches receives £1.3m Panther pack

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Five Plaxton Panthers join the 60-strong family-run firm, building on an already strong relationship between the operator and manufacturer

Horseman Coaches of Reading has completed a £1.3m purchase of five new Plaxton Panther-bodied Volvo B8R Euro 6 coaches.

The vehicles have now joined the 60-strong Horseman fleet which operates out of the company’s six-acre site, home to a 11,000 sq. ft. headquarters and administration centre, plus a 56,000 sq. ft. warehouse and depot facility.

The latest vehicles are all 12.8m 53-seater executive coaches, complete with parallel lift lockers, kitchenette/servery, fridge, toilets, entertainment systems and eight-camera CCTV systems. They are powered by Volvo D8K engines, coupled with Volvo I-Shift transmissions.

The vehicles are also specified with real-time tracking and telematics.

Company Director, James Horseman, commented: “We have a long relationship with Plaxton, having bought well over 30 vehicles from them in the last five years alone, including Cheetah, Leopard, Elite and Panther coaches.

“These latest Panthers are ideal for our type of business. They fit the bill across the wide range of services we offer, from school contracts to corporate work, private hires, airport transfers for Heathrow, Luton, Stansted and Gatwick, to special events, day trips and the wide range of tours we operate in Continental Europe.”

Horseman Coaches was founded in 1977 on the basis of a £100 deposit on a second-hand minicoach which Keith Horseman drove at the weekends.

Within three years the company had 10 vehicles and steadily grew into a substantial family-run business. However in May 2008 the local authority served a compulsory purchase order on its premises, in order to make way for road improvements to junction 11 on the M4.

This left the company 42 days in which to relocate, while simultaneously maintaining customer services and securing the employment of its workforce. It successfully acquired an empty Panasonic manufacturing and distribution facility on the periphery of Reading and, progressively, turned it into a facility that it is today.

James commented: “It all seems like a life-time ago but it was a traumatic time for the whole family and our long-serving, loyal employees. Looking back, I suppose we were simply resolute in our determination not to go under and, in retrospect, we are in many ways the living proof that adversity is opportunity.”