A guarantee from UK Export Finance (UKEF) has provided Northern Ireland-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus with £50 million in financing to support its ambitious exporting strategy.
This Export Development Guarantee sees the UK’s export credit agency guarantee 80 percent of the loan from Barclays Bank.
This financing builds on previous government support announced last year, helping deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority of keeping the economy growing. The development gives Wrightbus critical working capital support as well as a more flexible way to deploy the funds to support its business needs.
This will enable Wrightbus to deliver orders to new markets, such as Germany and North America, as well as additional orders in existing markets like Singapore and Hong Kong.
The announcement comes a week after Minister for Investment Lord Johnson visited Wrightbus’ site in Ballymena, County Antrim as part of a wider visit to Northern Ireland. There, he met investors and leading businesses ahead of the Northern Ireland Investment Summit taking place later in the year.
Minister for Investment Lord Johnson said: “Wrightbus is a fantastic example of a British business seizing the vast exporting opportunities around the world and embracing clean growth. UK Export Finance support for Wrightbus will be a great boost to its exporting journey, helping the company to create more local growth and jobs.
“This is the type of success we will build on at this autumn’s Northern Ireland Investment Summit, which will be a catalyst for securing more investment, creating more jobs and empowering more businesses to seize exporting opportunities.”
The company generated 27% of its revenues from exports in 2022 and seeks to grow this by nearly a fifth by the end of 2023 thanks in part to the UK government’s support. To facilitate this growth, Wrightbus plans to double its workforce by 2026, creating 1,000 new green jobs with most of the roles based at the company’s Ballymena hub.
The company’s hydrogen-powered, zero-carbon buses are in strong demand globally with over 600 buses of all types expected to be delivered by the end of 2023, up from 450 last year. Wrightbus now has the largest hydrogen fleet in the UK, with 100 buses in operation.
Jean-Marc Gales, Wrightbus CEO, said: “UKEF and Barclays’ support has been fundamental to the development of Wrightbus. The flexible products suit the needs of our business, which is growing exponentially and requires financial headroom.
“We are excited about our next phase and working within the Ballymena and wider Northern Ireland community to deliver innovative British technology to the global market.”
James Binns, Global Head of Trade and Working Capital, Barclays said: “Barclays are proud to work alongside UKEF to enable British companies to get the competitive edge when it comes to exporting.
“This new funding builds on our previous support to Wrightbus, providing crucial flexibility which will enable further growth in exports and domestically, continuing the vital pivot towards zero-emission sales.”
Based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Wrightbus introduced the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus in 2020, and also produces and exports electric-powered single and double-decker buses. The business is aiming to manufacture 3,000 zero-emissions buses by 2024, comprising 10% of the UK’s total fleet. Wrightbus last month received a further £12 million in joint government and industry-backed funding.
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