Custom Coaches gets new owners, sheds jobs

A consortium has acquired troubled bus manufacturer Custom
Coaches, with all manufacturing at the bus maker’s Adelaide site to end.

Custom was put in administration on May 30, and at the time employed about 300. The ABC
reports that only 120 jobs across its Adelaide and Sydney sites will remain at
the new company, with all manufacturing to be carried out at Sydney. 

It was
earlier reported that Custom Coaches would likely close its Royal Park site.

The company
was a year into a five-year contract to supply buses to the South Australian
government’s departments of transport and education.

The 62
workers in Adelaide site – which will became a purely after-sales operation – losing
jobs would have to fight for their full entitlements, according to the AMWU. Only 13 jobs would remain in Adelaide.

“From what I understand they will get 70 per
cent of their annual and long service [leave], that’s all, they won’t get a
redundancy,” the union’s Scott Bachelor told the ABC.

The company’s
new owner is a consortium led by funds manager Allegro Funds and the bus manufacturer has re-branded
as Custom Bus Australia.

Allegro’s Adrian Loader, chairman of the new
company, said he was pleased at the speed of the transaction and believed the
Custom would resume building the “best buses in Australia”.

According to Allegro’s website, its specialises in mid-sized firms where it invests “in situations where our capital and skills affect a
fundamental shift in business direction.”