Go-Ahead Group

Go-Ahead Group

Infobox Company
company_name = Go-Ahead Group plc
company_type = Public (lse|GOG)
foundation = 1987
location = flagicon|UK Newcastle upon Tyne, England, UK
key_people = Sir Patrick Brown, (Chairman)
Keith Ludeman, (CEO)
area_served = United Kingdom, Ireland and Europe
industry = Public transport, aviation services, parking management
products = Rail and road services
revenue = £1,826.9 million (2007)
operating_income = £118.1 million (2007)
net_income = £71.2 million (2007)
num_employees = 24,372 (2007)
parent =
subsid = Aviance UK, Blue Triangle, Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company, Docklands Buses, Go North East, Go South Coast, London Central, London General, London Midland, Meteor Parking, Oxford Bus Company, Southern, Southeastern
homepage = [http://www.go-ahead.com/ www.go-ahead.com]
footnotes =
The Go-Ahead Group plc (lse|GOG) is a rail and bus operating company that was created following the privatisation of the UK's train and bus industries. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is a constituent of the FTSE 250 Index.


Early history

Go-Ahead was initially formed as the Gateshead-based Go-Ahead Northern when the management team led by Martin Ballinger and Chris Moyes acquired that company during the privatisation of the National Bus Company (UK) in 1987. [ [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/obituaries/article642156.ece Chris Moyes - Obituary] ] Early expansion saw the acquisition of a number of smaller competing bus operators in the north east, including Gypsey Queen and Low Fell Coaches. At the same time, a number of pubs were purchased, this element of the business trading under the name "Go-Ahead Leisure": these were sold in 1996. [ [http://www.ukbusinesspark.co.uk/goaheada.htm UK Business Park] ]

Despite bidding for a number of other larger bus operators in the intervening period, the first major acquisition was Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company in November 1993, [http://www.thetimes100.co.uk/case-study--meeting-needs-competitive-sector--97-265-2.php Times 100 Case Study] ] which was quickly followed by the Oxford Bus Company in March 1994. The privatisation of London Buses in the mid-nineties saw Camberwell-based London Central acquired in November 1994, and this purchase was built upon in June 1996, when fellow London bus operator London General was acquired from the management and employee team that acquired the business at privatisation.

Expansion of the bus business

In 1997, the Brighton bus business was expanded with the acquisition of the former municipal operator Brighton Blue Buses. In September 1999, Metrobus, a large operator operating in London, Surrey and Sussex was acquired. In 2003 Wilts & Dorset and in 2005 Southern Vectis joined the Go-Ahead family. The Southern Vectis acquisition brought with it Eastleigh based bus operator Solent Blue Line.ref name="times"/>

In December 2005 the group purchased The Birmingham Coach Company, which operates express coach contracts on behalf of National Express and local bus services in the West Midlands under the Diamond Bus name. The group had been known for some time to be keen to begin operating in the area. On 22 February 2006 Go-Ahead purchased another operator in the West Midlands, Probus Management Limited, trading as People's Express, for £2.4m, adding around 100 vehicles to its West Midlands operations. In August 2006 the Birmingham Coach Company (trading as Diamond Bus) and Probus operations were regrouped under the Go West Midlands Limited legal entity, with the bus operations branded as Diamond in the West Midlands.

On March 3 2008, Go-Ahead sold Go West Midlands to Rotala's Central Connect, just after two years after purchasing the company. This was after a review following the group's interim results published on February 15 2008. [ [http://www.go-ahead.com/Main.php?sFileName=NewsRelease.php&iNewsId=265 Go-Ahead - "Disposal of Go West Midlands"] Accessed 3rd March 2008]

Entry into the rail market

The company has also been active in the rail market, winning the right to operate the Thames Trains, Thameslink, New Southern Railway, and Southeastern franchises, the latter three in co-operation with Keolis under the name Govia. The Thames Trains franchise was lost to First Group in 2004, and after exclusion from bidding for the new Thameslink franchise, Govia lost that to First also. This left Govia with the Southeastern franchise originally awarded in October 2000. [ [http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2000/oct/25/transport.hatfield Signals please] ]

On 30 November 2005, the UK Secretary of State for Transport, Alistair Darling, announced that Govia had been successful in winning the Integrated Kent Franchise, and took over on April 1 2006. [ [http://www.railwaypeople.com/rail-news-articles/govia-grabs-kent-franchise-905.html Govia grabs Kent Franchise] ] The franchise continues to use the previous Southeastern branding, but the bid was mounted using the name London & South Eastern Railway.

More recently, in November 2007 Govia began operating the new London Midland franchise. This includes part of the previous Central Trains and Silverlink County franchises. [ [http://www.therailwaycentre.com/UK%20News%20June%2007/210607_LondonM.html Return of 'London Midland'] ]


Bus operations

* Bluestar - bus operation in Eastleigh and Southampton; part of Go South Coast
* Blue Triangle - bus operation in Rainham; acquired by London General on 29 June 2007, part of Go-Ahead London
* Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company - bus operation in Brighton and Hove
* Docklands Buses - bus operation in East London); acquired by London General in 2006, part of Go-Ahead London
* Go North East - bus operation in North East England and the founding company of the Go-Ahead Group in 1987
* London Central - bus operation in London; part of Go-Ahead London
* London General - bus operation in London; part of Go-Ahead London
* Marchwood Motorways - bus and coach operator in Marchwood; part of Go South Coast
* Metrobus - bus operation in south east England
* Northumbria Coaches - bus operation in Ashington; acquired by Go North East in 2007
* Oxford Bus Company - bus operation in Oxford
* Southern Vectis - bus operation on the Isle of Wight; part of Go South Coast
* Tourist Group - a group of coach operators part of Wilts & Dorset
* Wilts & Dorset - bus operation in southern England; part of Go South Coast

Current rail franchises

*Southern (passenger rail operation)
*Southeastern (passenger rail operation)
*London Midland (passenger rail operation)

Previous rail franchises

*Thames Trains (passenger rail operation)
*Thameslink (passenger rail operation)

Other business areas

Other subsidiaries are Metro Taxis in Newcastle, Aviance UK (an airport services business formed through the acquisition of Gatwick Handling, Midland Aviation and Reed Aviation, and Meteor Parking, a car parking company based at Stansted Airport that trades under a number of brands from airports and railway stations around the UK.

enior management

* Sir Patrick Brown - Non-executive Chairman
* Keith Ludeman - Group Chief Executive
* Nicholas Swift - Group Finance Director
* Christopher Collins - Non Executive Director
* Rupert Pennant-Rea - Non Executive Director
* Carolyn Sephton - Group Company Secretary

Keith Ludeman was appointed as Chief Executive on 10 July 2006 following the resignation of Chris Moyes due to an undisclosed serious illness, subsequently revealed to have been a brain tumour.


The principal competitors of the Go-Ahead Group are:

*Stagecoach Group
*First Group
*National Express Group

All of these are larger groups with operations in more than one country.The main distinguishing features of the Go-Ahead Group are the relatively high degree of autonomy the group offers its individual operating companies, and its focus on investing in local management. These tactics are thought to have helped two of the group's bus operating companies, in Oxford and Brighton, to gain a reputation as among the best in the UK outside London.


External links

* [http://www.go-ahead.com/ Go-Ahead Group Website]

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