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25 jobs saved as private investor takes over bus company in Lincolnshire

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: March 23, 2012

Coach firm

Money man: AC Williams staff celebrate with investor Glen Pratt, right, after the London-based fund manager stepped in with a rescue package for the coach company

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Twenty-five jobs have been saved and more will be created at a bus and coach company which was facing closure.

The future of AC Williams, which was formed in Ancaster in 1953, was in doubt after its sister company AC Williams Renault dealership went under in December.

But now private investor Glen Pratt, 39, a London-based fund manager, has stepped in with a rescue package.

The company, which generates revenue of just under £1 million a year, ferries 500 schoolchildren in Lincolnshire daily.

It has a 20-strong bus and coach fleet and Lincoln City FC and the Red Arrows are among its clients.

Mr Pratt, who is originally from Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, is planning to take on up to five new workers, including drivers, in the next 12 months and increase the number of coach holidays from ten to 30 a year, expanding destinations to as far afield as the Rhine Valley.

Holidays and trips already paid for by customers will now go ahead as planned.

Mr Pratt says staff will get an above-inflation pay rise and workers will be eligible for a share of profits.

He plans to invest £50,000 in new tools and equipment, including eco exhausts for coaches entering London within the next three months. A further £50,000 is planned to create two new workshops over the next 12 to 18 months which will also see the return of an MoT station in Ancaster.

Mr Pratt said that he is investing heavily in marketing and advertising and that overall, investment is key to the success of the enterprise.

"A couple of employees, transport manager Ian Mansell and Sheila Somerville, who worked in the office but will be heading sales and marketing, were vehement with the administrator that the coach business was viable and there's lots of contract work," said Mr Pratt, who was managing a £2 billion portfolio of client funds in the City by his early 30s.

"They convinced the administrator to keep it going and to try to find a buyer.

"I cannot emphasise enough how dedicated they have been and its survival really is down to them.

"The car business was closed with the loss of 75 jobs.

"The fact is that the coach and bus part is basically a good business which should never have been in administration.

"I think I can take it by the scruff of the neck and shake it up. I don't think you can make it a success by cutting costs – sustainable investment and focus are what's needed.

"If the Lincolnshire economy is to grow it needs small businesses to take on people and expand.

"It is very satisfying to think that what I'm doing is saving jobs.

"There's 25 people with families that will have jobs to go to tomorrow."

Former managing director David Williams said: "I am delighted that jobs will be saved and that AC Williams's name will continue, in what promises to be a bright future for the company."

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  • chuffinel  |  March 23 2012, 9:42AM

    Good on you Glen; I genuinely hope that the business suceeds and grows. I bet there are some very happy people over at AC!

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