Ballymena firm, Wrightbus, has been saved after a both parties ‘agreed terms’ for the sale of the company.
Then deal, which has yet to be passed by administrators, would see the long running family firm fall into administration.
Recently negotiated with several potential investors failed which saw the company go into administration with the loss of near 1400 jobs.
BUT the news the company has been saved by Jo Bamford will come as welcomed news to many workers who still remain out of work when the factory closed, hoping they can take up their old positions.
The deal very nearly didn’t happen yesterday when the land, also owned by Jeff Wright, was a sticking point.
Many workers have picketed the factories gates since it closed and even held a protest outside Green Pastures Church in Ballymena, the church where Jeff Wright is a preacher.
Mr Bamford this morning said;
“We are delighted to announce that this morning I have agreed terms on a deal in principle with the Wright family for the Wrightbus factory and land.
“We are still to conclude a deal with the administrators but are pleased to report this important step in the right direction.“
The heir of JCB empire went on to tank the local MP.
“I would like to thank Ian Paisley MP for his hard work and diligence in helping to mediate what has at times been a tricky negotiation.”
It’s understood land which had caused talks to stall yesterday, has now been resolved. 40 acres is understood to have been gifted to the local council as part of the deal.
A statement from Jeff Wright confirmed this, saying;
“This legacy gift is a tribute not only to my father, his father before him, and the Wright family members but most importantly it is a tribute to the generations of workers who helped build a proud manufacturing tradition in Ballymena. It is my true wish to see this legacy used for the purposes of expanding manufacturing and benefiting our local community.”
Details of the sale and employment of ex workers remain unknown at this point.
Local politicians have spoken of the deal including a statement by local MLA and TUV leader Jim Allister which reads;
“I am delighted by the news of a deal to save Wrightbus.
“I want to commend all who made this possible, many working tirelessly behind the scenes. I particularly salute the fortitude of the workers. The agreement to gift the farmland to the Council is an equitable and sensible outcome. Now, all need to bind together to make this factory great again.
“With all the rancour that was stirred, we now need a time of healing. The Wright family, especially under Sir William Wright, made an immeasurable contribution to jobs and prosperity in Ballymena and further afield. Sir William’s vision and entrepreneurship put Ballymena on the map with cutting edge technology in the bus sector and it is this which will go on giving in terms of future success.
“So, let’s put the last few weeks behind us and all pull with the new owner to move forward with confidence and success.”