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£220m of new orders for bus manufacturer

SCOTTISH-headquartered bus manufacturer Alexander Dennis has unveiled orders for nearly 1000 buses, worth about £220 million in total.

A spokesman for Alexander Dennis, which employs nearly 900 people at its plant at Falkirk, said the group of orders was by far the biggest unveiled by the company.

The bulk of the orders come from Hong Kong bus operators, which are buying 641 vehicles.

These orders are mainly for the lighter, more fuel-efficient Enviro500 double decker developed by Alexander Dennis for export markets.

The Hong Kong bus operators that have placed the orders include KMB, Citybus, and MTRC.

Alexander Dennis also announced it had received orders for 150 "stop-start" hybrid-electric vehicles from UK operators Metroline, National Express, Stagecoach, London United, Go-Ahead, and FirstGroup.

And it revealed it had won orders for 175 smaller Enviro200 midi-buses, with a raft of UK operators buying these vehicles.

Chief executive Colin Robertson said: "In total, these orders represent a massive vote of confidence in our business and our ability to deliver lighter, more fuel-efficient buses, designed specifically to meet the different demands of operators around the world."

The company spokesman made it plain the new orders would not result in creation of new jobs at Falkirk.

However, he said: "It is certainly a great shot in the arm for the business and for the manufacturing sector.

"We have a vast supplier chain and network in Scotland and across the UK. This is going to be good news to an awful lot of companies."

The Alexander Dennis business was rescued in 2004 by a high-profile consortium including Stagecoach co-founders Sir Brian Souter and Ann Gloag, Sir Angus Grossart's Edinburgh-based Noble Grossart merchant bank, and businessman and former Rangers owner Sir David Murray.

It has enjoyed strong growth and healthy profits in spite of the turbulent economic times of the past few years.

Murray Capital, Noble Grossart, and Mr Souter and Ms Gloag continue to hold stakes in the bus manufacturer.

Mr Robertson also has a significant holding.

Alexander Dennis said all of the buses which formed part of the group of orders announced yesterday would be delivered in the next 18 months.

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