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First Bus announces sale of Scotland East business to McGill's Bus Group

  • McGill’s Group will take ownership of the business from 19th September
  • Both businesses pledge to put all staff and customers at the forefront of their plans

First Bus has agreed to sell its First Scotland East business and all its routes in the region to McGill’s Group.

The sale, which will complete later in September, includes all First Bus depots in Livingston, Larbert, Bannockburn, Balfron, as well as the Edinburgh open-top bus operation Bright Bus Tours. It also includes over 200 buses which currently operate in the region by approximately 550 staff.

First Bus has a strong presence in Scotland with its long-established businesses across Aberdeen and Greater Glasgow and is concentrating on driving passenger recovery following the pandemic, alongside growth across both networks. This includes supporting customers with innovative pricing and ticketing options and the introduction of new technology such as Tap On Tap Off (TOTO) in Glasgow and Tap & Cap in Aberdeen.

First Bus is making great strides towards its commitment to a fully zero emission fleet by 2035. This includes £35m investment in green transport, in partnership with Transport Scotland, at its Scotstoun and Aberdeen depots.

Duncan Cameron, Managing Director of First Bus Scotland, said:

“I’d like to thank our employees for their continued hard work to deliver the best experience possible for our customers across the First Scotland East business. We will be supporting them fully as they transfer to their new employer.

“This sale is part of a strategic refocusing of our Scotland business with significant investment in zero emission buses in Glasgow and Aberdeen.

“As we’ve seen from their successful purchase of Xplore Dundee in recent times, McGill’s is an historic and trusted bus operator brand within Scotland and one we believe to be a safe pair of hands to take the Scotland East business forward successfully.

“We will continue to operate our services as usual until the handover date, working closely with our local authority partners and demonstrating our commitment to our customers through the service we offer them.”

McGill’s Group said it was committed to working with staff and local stakeholders to build the best bus service in the region. Owned by leading Scottish businessmen Sandy and James Easdale, McGill’s has invested heavily in its business and services, including the recent purchase of Xplore Dundee from National Express and its partnership with international coach operator FlixBus for longer distance routes.

James Easdale, chairman of McGill’s Bus Group, said: “Everyone at McGill’s Group is excited about welcoming Scotland East into our stable and the opportunities that lie ahead. Our team are passionate about using our expertise to build the business in the years ahead so we can retain and attract new passengers across the region. We’re pleased the opportunity has arisen to acquire the business and we appreciate the efforts of First towards ensuring a smooth transition.”

Ralph Roberts, CEO of McGill’s Bus Group, said: “We would like to welcome all First Scotland East employees into the McGill’s family. In the weeks and months ahead, we will be engaging with our new colleagues for feedback and also listening to the views of local stakeholders as we seek to deliver the best bus service possible. We firmly believe that we can combine the advantages of the McGill’s Group with unique local transport brands and we will be announcing further details on that post-completion.”



Notes to editors

For more information, please contact Craig Dennett, PR Manager for First Bus Scotland at craig.dennett@firstbus.co.uk

About First Bus

First Bus is one of the UK’s largest bus operators. Making journeys easier for our customers, we were the first national bus operator to accept contactless card payments across all of our services and our First Bus App is voted ‘best in class’ amongst UK bus operators. Our most recent investments are in new, state-of-the-art buses across our key networks.

We work proactively with our local authority partners, making a positive impact on air quality, tackling congestion and improving customer experience. We are focused on First Bus becoming a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future and are committed to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035; we have pledged not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. We also operate the Aircoach network in Ireland.

First Bus is a division of FirstGroup.

For more information on First Bus: news-scot.firstbus.co.uk

About McGill’s

Founded in 1936, McGill's has depots in Greenock, Inchinnan, Johnstone and Dundee. In late 2020, McGill’s purchased Xplore Dundee from National Express.

McGill’s prides itself on high-level customer service and invests heavily in the new vehicles, driver training and development. The company has an in-house driver training academies in Johnstone and Dundee.

McGill’s worked closely with the Prince's Trust on the 'Get Into Bus Engineering' scheme, to allow younger workers an opportunity to become engineers with McGill's. The company is also accredited as an Investor in Young People.

McGill's Bus Service Limited is registered in Scotland (SC027238). 

About Sandy and James Easdale:

Sandy and James Easdale have a wide range of business interests spanning transport, manufacturing, commercial property and land investment.

The Easdale family owns McGill's Group, the largest independent UK bus operator. Previously serving Glasgow, Inverclyde and the west of Scotland, McGill's Group expanded east in 2020 when it purchased Xplore Dundee from National Express.

The brothers are also spearheading more than £800million of major property developments, including a 130-acre site at the former Tullis Russell papermill in Glenrothes and the rejuvenation of the 70-acre former IBM site in Greenock. They are also driving forward the redevelopment of the iconic former Watt Brothers store at the heart of Glasgow.

In 2022, Sandy and James Easdale were named on The Sunday Times Rich List for the first time, placed at 129 in the UK wealth list and eighth in Scotland.