'Epsom Coaches will not merge after French sale', says new MD
Epsom Coaches will not be merged with other bus operators following its sale to a French company, its new managing director has insisted.
The iconic family-owned business, which was set up 92 years ago and employs 330 staff, was sold last week to RATP Dev UK, the UK arm of the transport firm RATP, which runs the Paris Metro.
The company already owns the London United bus company, Bath Bus Company, Yellow Buses, based in Bournemouth, and Manchester’s Metrolink, sparking concerns that jobs and the independence of Epsom Coaches could be under threat through efficiency savings and the integration of services between these companies.
But the company's new MD, Steve Whiteway, told the Epsom Guardian he had been given written confirmation there would be no rationalisation of services between the companies and all current staff members would be retained.
He said: "There is no question of any integration of Epsom Coaches with any other companies owned by RATP Dev UK.
"We will lend each other expertise but there is no question of anything changing.
"Epsom Coaches was bought for its quality and I have been given a written assurance by RATP Dev UK that there will be no integration."
He said RATP’s track record confirmed the assurance, with companies already owned in the UK remaining independent.
"RATP Dev UK has ambitions to expand in the UK and I will be taking a role in this, but Epsom Coaches will remain as a separate, independent company," he said.
"It is business as usual for us."
Mr Whiteway, who was the company's commercial director, along with fellow owners Andrew Richmond and Rosemary Lever, sold their shares in the company for an undisclosed amount.
Based in Roy Richmond Way, Epsom - named after the man who built-up the company between 1947 and 1991 - runs a fleet of 85 buses and 25 coaches, operates 14 routes for Transport for London (TfL) and four local bus routes in Surrey, as well as a full range of coach, contract and holiday services.
It is also now providing services for National Express and recently won a contract to run the X26 bus service between Croydon and Heathrow for TfL.
Mr Whiteway said: "I think Roy would be very proud that the company his father founded, and he built up, has been bought by RATP, recognising it as a huge force in transport fleets.
"The company is hugely admired and there was a lot of competition from other companies to buy it."
RATP Dev UK won because they held the "same values which are important to us", Mr Whiteway said.
"We are well-known in the community and that won’t change," he said.
"It is a new era, but we will be continuing with our innovation and quality. The shareholders of the company may have changed, but the ethos has not."
Jean-Marc Janaillac, chief executive officer of RATP Dev, said: "We are committed to running high quality public transport businesses and as such, this acquisition fits very well within our strategy for the future.
"The management and staff have built an excellent business and we look forward to working with them and continuing to deliver a high quality service for our customers."