Ballymena company Wrights Group is investing over £14million in five research and development (R&D) projects and is also creating 130 new jobs, it has been announced.
The family-owned company is one of the UK’s leading bus builders and employs around 1,800 staff in Northern Ireland. The new jobs are being created in Wright EN-Drive, the company’s dedicated facility for the design and manufacture of integral vehicle chassis.
Announcing the investment Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said: “Wrights Group is one of our most successful indigenous manufacturing companies, and this is in large part due to its continuous focus on innovation.
“In the last five years Wrights Group has undertaken a number of successful R&D projects that have significantly boosted its sales and international profile. This investment will further strengthen its product portfolio and its ability to sell into markets around the world.
“The company has high growth potential as is reflected in the creation of 130 new jobs, which will generate £2.5million a year in wages for the local economy. It is also strategically important to the Northern Ireland supply chain.”
The R&D projects include developing a range of low-cost premium class buses and coaches for the Indian market, low height and narrower double deckers for the Australia /New Zealand market, electric powered, zero emission single and double deck vehicles for the Hong Kong market, double deck and single deck buses to meet the operational requirements in Middle East countries, and a new integral chassis.
Arlene Foster added: “By tailoring its research and development projects to target specific export markets, Wrights Group will be well positioned to compete for more contracts across the globe. This is good news for Northern Ireland and for our economy as a whole.”
Invest NI has offered £1.8million of support for the R&D projects, part funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and £650,000 of support for the 130 jobs through its Jobs Fund.
Mark Nodder, Group Managing Director of Wrights Group, said: “Our aim is to become a world class designer and manufacturer of integral public transport vehicles and evolve into a major international supplier to the worldwide bus market.
“This investment brings us a step closer to achieving that. With Invest NI’s support we will be able to bring products to market quickly, and we anticipate that within four years we can triple export sales.”