Page last updated at 07:00 GMT, Thursday, 5 February 2009

11m deal for bus building firm

Arlene Foster
Arlene Foster is leading a trade mission to the Netherlands

A County Antrim company has signed an 11m partnership deal to supply 57 new London buses.

The deal between Wrightbus in Ballymena and VDL Groep in Eindhoven is for the supply of buses to operator Arriva.

Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster made the announcement during a visit to VDL as part of a NI trade mission to the Netherlands.

She said it was "encouraging news" for Wrightbus at a "time of global economic downturn".

"The achievements of Wrightbus show that companies can achieve growth by diversifying markets, focusing on new product development and by forming strategic partnerships that enable them quickly to access business opportunities as they develop abroad," Mrs Foster added.

The minister said the contract also showed that "despite the current difficult economic conditions, local manufacturers in sectors such as engineering can compete and above all succeed in export markets".

Mark Nodder of the Wright Group said the contract showed what could be achieved "when companies with complementary capabilities work closely together".

"Our Dutch partners VDL have joined us in several projects during the past 10 years, and the partnership has grown from strength to strength," he said.

The partnership will initially see Wrightbus build their buses around a VDL chassis.

Through time, Wrightbus will use the partnership to fully develop their own chassis design.

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