Tuesday 11 August 2015 5:01 am

Tory plans for elected mayors to open franchise door for Rotala

Bus operator Rotala yesterday said a fresh government initiative to refranchise provincial bus services would open the door for further growth at the group. The company, which reported a six per cent fall in revenues, said Tory government plans to give directly elected mayors power over local transport will put a wave of new bus contracts up for grabs. Rotala recently bought a Manchester-based bus operator, GTB, for £900,000 to capitalise on plans to give Manchester its first directly elected mayor by 2017. “We believe that this entry point into the Manchester market leaves us well placed to participate in any bids for franchised contracts that may result from the government’s new proposals,” chairman John Gunn said in a statement. The company currently has a strong presence on bus routes in the west Midlands, Bristol, Preston and across the north west. Overall revenues for the first half of this year fell £24.6m. A rise in operating margins, from 17.1 per cent to 18.2 per cent, helped push pre-tax profits before exceptional items six per cent higher to just over £1m. The revenue fall was attributed to the loss of a contract with international airline British Airways, which the company had held for the past ten years. Investors benefited from a interim dividend increase of 11.5 per cent to 0.725p per share, up from 0.65p last year.