Ballymena bus maker Wrightbus has signed an £11m (€12.33m) partnership deal with a Dutch company to supply buses to London, it was announced today.
The partnership with VDL Groep in Eindhoven is for the supply of 57 busses to operator Arriva.
Trade Minister Arlene Foster announced the co-operation deal during a visit to VDL during the largest ever North trade mission to the Netherlands.
She described it as “a shining example of the successful relationships that the 36 companies involved in the mission, were aiming to develop.”
Mrs Foster added: “This is immensely encouraging news for one of Northern Ireland’s most successful, and still, locally-owned companies, particularly at this time of global economic downturn.”
The achievements of Wrightbus showed that companies could achieve growth by diversifying markets, focusing on new product development and by forming strategic partnerships that enabled them to quickly assess business opportunities and develop abroad.
“Wrightbus continues to win substantial business because it is focused on key customers in its target markets,” she added.
“This contract also shows that, despite the current difficult economic conditions, local manufacturers in sectors such as engineering can compete, and, above all, succeed in export markets, taking advantage, for instance, of the favourable Sterling exchange rate,” Mrs Foster said.
Companies taking part in the mission will be returning to the North with a clear message that there are significant business opportunities in The Netherlands for those prepared to invest time and other resources on building partnerships in such important European marketplace, she said.
Mark Nodder, Group Managing Director of the Wright Group, said: “This significant contract for new buses in London shows what can be achieved when companies with complementary capabilities work closely together.
“Our Dutch partners VDL have joined us in several projects during the past 10 years, and the partnership has grown from strength to strength.”
The partnership will initially see Wrightbus build their buses around a VDL chassis.
Through time, Wrightbus will use the partnership to fully develop their own chassis design.