Frontsource stretches out
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• Frontsource, the bus and truck vehicle engineering services company, is aiming to set up a nationwide network of vehicle engineering centres by the end of 1988.
The company already owns nine former National Bus Company engineering businesses, mainly in the South. They include Alder Valley Engineering, United Counties Engineering and Eastern National Engineering, as well as Bus Engineering at Chiswick, the former London Buses vehicle repair and reconditioning centre.
Now Frontsource plans to open another five vehicle engineering sites, at a cost of about 2.5 million. Prime targets for acquisition, says Bus Engineering managing director Shon Laird, will be any remaining NBC operating companies in the North, or those ex-NBC subsidiaries which look after their own vehicles, and are only now beginning to realise the full cost of vehicle maintenance and servicing in a non-subsidised, deregulated environment.
Frontsource has also told Scottish Secretary Malcolm Rifkind that it wants to buy the Scottish Bus Group's engineering depots, although they are not expected to go on sale before next year. Among the services Frontsource plans to offer to bus and truck operators is a fixed-rate contract maintenance package. It is currently running a pilot scheme with Alder Valley South, the old NBC company bought by Frontsource in December 1987. AVS vehicles are being maintained by Alder Valley Engineering, which now employs AVS's engineering workforce. Laird says that Frontsource can offer similar services to truck operators, "as the two sides fit well together." Frontsource already has a maintenance contract with National Carriers Contract Services, handled by Eastern National at Chelmsford, and hopes that HGVs will account for 25% of its overall vehicle work by the end of the year.
Frontsource is also pushing ahead with a major expansion programme to its Bus Parts PSV spares operation (CM 612 August 1987). Following its purchase of a former Blue Circle site it is now consolidating its spare parts business into a central distribution depot in Rugby. The relocation represents an investment of around 2250,000, and Frontsource is also considering a computer system linking its engineering centres to Rugby.