Optare aims to move up a gear as it looks to export markets

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BUS maker Optare yesterday said that it was looking to the future with “increased confidence” as it seeks opportunities in export markets.

The company has secured a new export distributor in Australia to take advantage of increased market demand.

Turnover for the six months ended September 30 2013 was £32.4m, compared with £46.7m in the same period the year before.

Lower demand in April and May 2013 affected the first half results.

EBITDA losses reduced by 33 per cent to £800,000.

John Fickling, Optare’s chairman, said: “I am pleased with the progress we have made to improve efficiency and reduce fixed costs.

“We continue to invest in people, innovation and new product opportunities for the UK and export markets. We look to the future of the company with increased confidence.”

Optare’s buses run in the UK, Europe and North America and it is looking at expanding over- seas.

The company moved to a new factory in Sherburn in Elmet in North Yorkshire in 2011.

The opening of the production site resulted in the closure of facilities in Leeds and Blackburn and the sale of the company’s Rotherham site.

The moves resulted in the loss of 155 jobs with the number of employees falling from 531 in April 2012 to 376 in March 2013.

Today, the company employs more than 200 people.

Optare is now owned by Ashok Leyland, part of the Hinduja Group, which is one the top five global bus manufacturers.

Ashok Leyland has a 75 per cent stake in the company.

In November, Optare announced that it had secured a £23m refinancing with Barclays to help it grow.

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