Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, has announced it has begun a consultation process regarding the potential loss of 95 jobs.
In a statement it revealed that depending on the outcome of the consultation process, up to 95 job roles could be affected within the company’s Wrightbus and Customcare operating divisions.
Wrightbus, based in Ballymena, employs more than 1,500 people and sells its vehicles in both domestic and international markets.
It is best known for an updated version of the London Routemaster, or so-called "Boris Bus".
The statement added: "Wrightbus has today (Monday 12 February 2018) announced that it has begun a statutory consultation process regarding a potential workforce reduction at its Northern Ireland facilities.
"Depending on the outcome of the consultation process, up to 95 job roles could be affected within the company’s Wrightbus and Customcare operating divisions in Ballymena.
"The company, which supplies a range of buses throughout the UK and Ireland, is currently experiencing challenging market conditions, with privately and publicly operated bus companies alike facing pressures in terms of capital funding and meeting ever stricter environmental requirements.
"Chairman of Wrights Group, Mark Nodder OBE, commented: “Wrightbus, along with the rest of the industry, is facing some very difficult conditions in its domestic market at present, with current order intake for new vehicles at relatively low levels. In order that the business remains competitive in the long term, it is vital that we promptly take appropriate steps to align our production capacity to projected demand in the foreseeable future.
“We have continued to invest in our product range so that it remains best in class in terms of fuel efficiency and environmental performance. The company will therefore be well positioned when market conditions improve.
“As a privately-owned business and one of the largest employers in Northern Ireland, we have not come to this decision lightly and it is done with a heavy heart. However, we operate in dynamic marketplace with competition from around the globe and we must respond and react accordingly. We will naturally work with the union and employee representatives to ensure that we manage the process in the most sympathetic way possible for all affected.”
He added: “Given the sensitivities around this announcement, the company will not be making any further statement until the consultation process is concluded.”
North Antrim DUP MP Ian Paisley has told of his disappointment at the job losses.
"I am very disappointed by the news today that 95 jobs are to be cut from the Wright Bus workforce," he said. "Obviously this will come as a blow to the local manufacturing sector.
"I have been in discussions with the CEO of the company and I understand the reasons behind this decision.
"Looking forward, the company has considerably good prospects but order books must match the workforce. It is essential that in the future, Government bus contracts start to favour local manufacturers so as to avoid such peaks and troughs in the production cycle.
"As usual, the workforce has demonstrated a resilience and a stoicism that one would expect despite this devastating announcement. Today my thoughts are with those 95 workers who will be losing their jobs and who will feel this news most acutely.”