28 May 2013

Close Down Mode?

Question:

It’s Alex Brignall from UBS. …Firstly, in terms of the disposal target, the £100 million you say you’ve achieved, I think last year you talked about £100 million with no impact on EBIT (Earnings Before Interest and Taxes), so therefore we would see a margin improvement. Obviously we have seen an impact on EBIT.  Does that mean that there’s still a tale of non-profitable businesses that you’re trying to get out of, or is what you have left what you’re planning on keeping?

Answer:

Tim O’Toole: Well, in the disposals there are some money losing operations we have to run off, of which we weren’t able to complete the sales. We had more regulatory interference than we expected, but we also had people who had indicated expressions of interest, who at the
end of the day walked away, and there was just no getting around that. In South Devon and Northampton we are almost in a close-down mode trying to figure out Northampton getting two or more efficient, smaller operations, transferring some of those operations to other carriers so we can TUPE the employees across and give them the appropriate future. We are having to do some of that although it is not a big financial item that you would see.

This was from a transcript of a talk to investors by First Group.

There is still a bit of fight in First Devon though…

We've reduced our fares between Plymouth and Ivybridge on the X80 (and the 180 too!) from 26 May they're:
Single £2.50 (save 50p)
Return £3 (save £1.20)
Plus we've extended the boundary of our FirstDay Plymouth ticket zone to include Ivybridge as well. So now you can have unlimited travel all day on our buses in Plymouth plus Saltash, Torpoint and Ivybridge for just £3.50 (that's a saving of 50p compared to the price of the FirstDay Ivybridge ticket)
  First Devon

Of course next week is when the current 88 comes off – although I have not seen any announcement of this on the First web site, although I may have missed it?

 

 


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49 comments:

  1. Seems a bit strange when they have just announced restructure back to local management with Devon, Cornwall and Somerset run from Plymouth. Perhaps he means by the way they have been running the operation down over past few years that they are 'effectively in close down mode' ?. Nice to see a fightback in Ivybridge, this along with fares reduction in Saltash and increased service 15 from Derriford to City shows some fightback from First at last, now the sales have fallen through!

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  2. Strange anyone would think this to be a good move from a company losing millions each year - reduce your fares and allow current passengers to save money, in the hope that you might attract a couple of extra passengers here and there. Suicidal I would suggest.

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  3. He presumably means exiting the market - just one bus in Somerset wears the new livery. I can't see how running things from a remote office in Plymouth will assist rural Somerset.

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  4. What a bizarre (if not brutally honest) thing for Mt O'Toole to say. That's pretty much an open invition to Stagecoach and Go-Ahead to register on Plymouth depot's best routes.

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    Replies
    1. It would cost Stagecoach too much to set up, their best bet is to buy First Devon along with Plymouth garage out if they want to enter into Plymouth.

      The last thing Plymouth needs is for Go Ahead to push First out and get a monopoly because fares would rise and services would be cut without competition, be it First or another operator!

      By cutting fares etc in Ivybridge and Saltash it seems like First Devon want to put in a fight for their customers at least in the Plymouth area.

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    2. I'm was thinking more of Stagecoach running on the X80 route using buses based in Torquay or Paignton. As for Ivybridge, it seems a little odd to withdraw the 88 and then cut fares on the X80. The 88 never stood a chance really, considering the random and highly variable quality of buses used against Citybus's consistently well presented Enviros.

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  5. First have just announced service cutbacks in Bridgewater & WSM.
    Hopefully we will soon see First service cutbacks in Plymouth.
    I can't see another operator entering the Plymouth market, hopefully, a long slow war of attrition will force First out.

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    1. don't worry about everyone losing their jobs!! idiot

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  6. I really feel for the staff at first bus. Who yet again have been kept in the dark over all the goings on. I smell a North Devon fiasco looming around the corner and it will be us the passengers and the drivers who we be left out in the cold. Its all very well these American directors coming to England trying to make a quick buck for themselves. Who have no idea how to run a regional bus company and at the end of the day do not really care about it. Well I say give power back to the local staff who have been here doing this job for years and can make it work.

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    1. said all along going the same way as north devon

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  7. If First are going to leave I hope that they are successful in making a sale of their operations to a buyer thus transferring the staff under the provisions of TUPE.

    I don't think there is the same situation here as in North Devon. The network in Cornwall, Plymouth and South West Devon is probably more attractive to a buyer than the north.

    Stagecoach look a good fit to take the whole lot and given they do not operate fully in these areas I would not think that there would be competition commission concerns. It would also throw the prospect of real and viable competition into Plymouth something that will be of an advantage to the travelling public.

    There are though other options. GoAhead may be interested in the operations. I don't think there would be difficulties in rural south west devon or in Cornwall but its the rump of First services in Plymouth that would pose the issue i feel with the competition commission. If these services could not be purchased them there just isn't enough left there as i see it to attract a buyer. The result for Plymouth of Go Ahead closing out the competition and being the city's sole operator could cause real problems for passengers in service provision and fares.

    Maybe a Western Greyhound could be interested but this could have complication issues in Cornwall. Finally what about some new players, Arriva, National Express group, RAPT or Transdev? or my favorite - Wellglade (TrentBarton) a real long shot as they have never really bought out of their immediate area as far as I can tell.

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    1. Hopefully First will stay and make a fight of it. The comments of hope First pull out of Plymouth like other areas are quite frankily pathetic, why would anyone want them to de register routes leaving Go Ahead with a monopoly of the city and staff out of a job ?? Mindless I would say, sorry!

      If Firs do go I hope they find a buyer, with a bit of luck Stagecoach!! This would give good competition in the city!

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  8. Why dont the employees do an employee buyout of the Plymouth and Tavistock operations, similar to what happened at the start of deregulation when NBC and corporations sold their bus operations! Surely its an option? Perhaps Rotala, Arriva or Western Greyhound may consider buying it! Anything is better than First, Moir Lockhead got out at the right time didnt he!!!!!

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    Replies
    1. cos we are on a poor rate of pay!!

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  9. I think from listening to the transcript that it is unlikely that anyone would want to buy First in Plymouths operation, O'Toole talks of 'interested buyers walking away'.
    I doubt Stagecoach would be allowed to buy it by OFT/CC but then I don't think they would touch it with a bargepole anyway!
    Of course I don't know the numbers but I can only see the UGO network slowly crumbling in a long slow war of attrition with go-Ahead.
    Personally I hope Go-ahead 'up the ante' bring in more vehicles and put the pressure on.

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  10. Whoever these idiots hopig for First demise in Plymouth and not worrying about the families etc of First employees are quite frankily pathetic and I just hope the same does not happen to you!! Good luck to First and their employees...hope to see you in Plymouth for a lobg time to come!!!

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  11. Absolutely agree. Plymouth needs a viable competitor to PCB.

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  12. I hope first stay and fight it out, they have a lot going for them with the right team in charge. Why would anyone want to see others out of work like a few seem to on here!!

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  13. Nobody has a problem with the employees on here! What we do have a problem is the shoody operation that is First, not just in Plymouth, but nationally too! No matter what part of the country First is in the reputation they have is always the same, poor quality, reliability issues etc etc, and that is not the employees fault but rests squarely with central management.

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  14. Great news re Alex Carter at First Devon and Cornwall. He is just the person to turn this company around. He did a great job at Go South Coast and I believe will do so here if First let him get on with it! Also is 11 years at Go South Coast will put him in good stead in Plymouth where he will know how the competition work..i.e Plymouth Citybus/Go Ahead.

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    Replies
    1. only if given the resources ie injection of monies instead of going to the share holders you can,t make a rolls royce out of a mini

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  15. Not seen anything from Alex Carter yet all i have seen new routes being introduced by Pcb which can only have an adverse affect on First lowering the fares ? need some injection of reliable buses when will they go in down Mount Batten soon maybe or they waiting for the to go through the depot from the sherford project and then shut the gates

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  16. Registering new routes/resurecting old possibly bring it on FIRST new fare restructure £1 single let battle commence about time too is it too little or to late

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  17. This is going to kick off bad, I don't think PCB will win this time around... Time for First to get their own back.

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    Replies
    1. Lets hope so... Teach Citybus a lesson!! Too big for their boots this time I reckon!

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    2. oh yes and wouldn't I love it!!! First could do well on some of PCB forgotten areas whilst PCB get nought from Tavistick and Torpoint. This could really backfire big time!!! Hope so!!!

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    3. Seen some newer fleet at FDC recently, so lets hope they have a plan to come back at PCB. Good luck First.. let battle commence...new routes in Plymouth I say.. PLEASE!

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  18. Well here,s the start pulling plug on ser 5,6,7 in Plymstock not much left in Plymouth also X80 the flagship dumping ser 3 from Barn barton where will they go next ? watch this space PCB

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  19. Just been confirmed on VOSA website. First Route 5, 6, 7 and x80 and x81 all cancelled! 1 new route, 6, to Efford! Service 15 now to serve Roborough! Service 3 to terminate at St Budeaux square! So, 5 route cancellations, i new route and 2 route variations. The way i read it, fewer vehicles and fewer drivers needed!

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    1. service 3 could just be down to pedantics as describing the terminus as St Budeaux Square. You could effectively describe any point on the St Budeaux Square / Barne Barton loop as the terminus. All guess work at this stage.

      As for the fewer drivers and vehicles needed - well, yes if this is indeed all the changes for October then it is a massive cutback. It is quite common for large scale changes to be spread out over a few days on VOSA. I am sure we will be seeing a lot more to come from First.

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  20. Think not Richard talks of reduncies and closing depot in november this is i think last ditch effort and the ser 3 going via victoria rd into honicknowle ser 6 to ser efford can,t see this turning the company around

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    Replies
    1. Closing the depot in November is simply not true and utter rubbish... THAT IS A FACT! New timetables including new routes launch end october

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  21. Just a breather till new year to see if they cannot turn it around

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    1. Wait until PCB start losing money on the Tavi ad Torpoint routes... by which time First could have cleaned up with vastly cheaper and frequent services in West Park, Honicknowle, Pennycross etc, and possibly with lower fares in efford too! PCB 5% profit could be gone and be in a loss watch Go ahead panic then!!! PCB V FIRST on Tavistock route I predict FIRST win comfortably.. PCB V FIRST in Torpoint - 2 NIL to First, and I reckon First will start to win in West Park, Honicknowle as well, 3 - 0, PCB could win Efford so 3 - 1, but if it does not work here for First then can simply try somewhere else, possibly in the North of the City. If PCB want to play games, they had btr not coun on First just pulling out, seems to me First are pulling out of South Devon as promised but using the extra resources from X80 and 81 (possibly 93 in a few months) to concentrate on profit making Plymouth estates with smaller overheads and lower fares... Watch out PCB this could seriously backfire!!!!

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  22. Let's call PCB exactly what they are - Go-Ahead. ie No different to First or Stagecoach. If a route does not make enough money it WILL be cancelled. All those Companies have demonstrated it in the recent past. Go-Ahead are running newer vehicles than First, but they cost more money each month to operate. First buses generally have gone past their depreciation point and are owned not leased. If First reduce their fares (which they can) as well as playing around with routes, they (could) clean up. Go-Ahead shareholders will not stand a loss on any route for very long and their fares are due to rise again soon anyway. I don't think this is the end of the road for First, just a very long overdue re-organisation. A HUGE pity the management didn't listen to the drivers in the past.

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  23. Thing is though that PCB need to 'clean up' as you put it now. they've registered pretty much everything in the City and will be spending lots more money running Tavistock and Torpoint.
    First just need to decide to stay out of principle and cut their losses in the longer term, they don't need to 'clean up'. that's why this looks so interesting. Now its First who can make life difficult for PCB instead of the other way round. Looks like First have worked that out and they have the right people running it in Plymouth to do just that!

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  24. would love to know where u got this info that pcb fares are going up? some of their fares hve actually come down!

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  25. First Engineering to have Depot redevelopement team in sounds good news ? i wonder what next

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    Replies
    1. Yes you really do get the sense that First are turning the corner in Plymouth, I would expect the losses to be seriously cut in the next 12 months...and according to several posters on Omnibuses..several new buses are to be allocated to First Plymouth too! It sounds like they are not in 'close down' mode now. Great news for bus travellers in the city.

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    2. IIRC there was a belief that those supposed new buses for Plymouth have since been diverted to East Scotland.

      I don't know what a 'Depot Redevelopment' team is.... but could it perhaps be connected with looking for a replacement location given the likely compulsory purchase of The Ride? I suspect the options resulting from that search will be what finally forces the decision to stay or go.

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  26. For Redevelopment team, read Transformation team. A big announcement of some sort is expected in a couple of weeks, but it doesnt sound like First are ready to disappear just yet. I would be expecting ALL the managers to be looking for another job though.

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    1. Sounds promising for First Plymouth's future. What exactly is a Depot Transformation Team ? What do they do ? Any ideas ?

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    2. Anon 13:09 - regarding your last sentence. If you know something then that's a pretty stupid comment to make on here; if you don't know anything then it's even more of a stupid comment to make on here. No?

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    3. Sorry - I missed the last line of this comment when I approved it for publication. Otherwise I would not have authorised it. Please remember that the staff who work for these companies before making such sweeping comments especially when they do not appear to be based on any facts.

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  27. Ooh another big announcement (that never happens) I can hardly wait!

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  28. The truth is that only a very few people in First know what the plan is for First in Plymouth. What we do know is that it is business as usual at a The Ride. Despite all the rumours, gossip, speculation and fantasies, the only thing we know is that we all still have our jobs here and there is no sign of things stopping. It's not the depot transformation team, just the odd big cheese making sure that everything is being done in the depot to First standards and procedures. Let's face it, we aren't going to be told what the plans are as the bosses are obviously going to keep every move to themselves. They aren't going to share their plans with the public are they. The truth is that no one posting on here really has a clue what First has planned for Plymouth. Every rumour, including new buses, is just a fantasy dreamt up by someone who doesn't actually have a clue.

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    1. I heard all First buses were going to double up as Ice Cream vans from now on. Just pop along to your nearest bus stop and for a couple quid you can get a Mr Whippy.

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    2. if first did im sure go ahead would follow jus incase they missed something, of course go ahead would have newer, whippyer and more exspensive cones.

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