Investing in the future at D&E

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Inverness-based D&E Coaches recently took delivery of a pair of new Mercedes-Benz Tourismo coaches. Jonathan Welch paid a visit to have a look and find out more about the northern Scottish operator

Established 24 years ago, D&E Coaches was founded by Managing Director Donald Mathieson and his wife, Elizabeth; the initials of their first names give the company its name. D&E hit the headlines in October 2019 when it won the ‘Best Family Business in the Highlands and Islands 2019’ category at the Highlands and Islands Business Awards. Combined with the arrival or two new Mercedes-Benz Tourismo coaches, this prompted CBW to make the trip north to have a chat with Donald and his family about how the business has grown over the years, and what he still has in store for the future. What’s more, having spoken to Donald over the phone numerous times in my previous role before joining CBW, it was nice to finally put a face to the name!

In November 2018, Donald made the decision to re-focus, and as is widely known, the service bus routes were taken over by Stagecoach, leading to a revamp of the local bus network. However, the coaching side of the business remains strong, and continues to evolve and invest. A lot of work now comes from cruise liners which arrive at the nearby port of Invergordon during the season, which runs from April to October, disgorging their thousands of passengers for day trips in and around the Highlands. “All our cruise work is fully booked for 2020,” said Donald, although he is cautious not to put all his eggs in one basket. “You’ve got to look after your bread and butter too,” he said. “The cruises all want to go to Loch Ness, Culloden, the distilleries, Dunrobin Castle in Sutherland. That has dropped off now for the winter, though. We do a lot of work for local sports teams, Highland Rugby Club and both local football clubs.” For those less conversant with Scottish football, that’s Inverness Caledonian Thistle and Ross County. Despite being so far north, there is a large amount of work on offer, both inbound tourists and private hire for local groups. […]

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