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Azets and Andrew Jackson help York Bus Company get on board with FirstGroup

13 March 2024

A deal has been completed for the sale of York Pullman Bus Company Ltd ("York Pullman"), with advisory services from top 10 UK accountancy firm Azets and regional law firm Andrew Jackson.

Azet

The long-established family business has been acquired by FirstGroup plc, which represents a strategic expansion in the North Yorkshire transport sector.

Azets advised York Pullman, which is based just outside York, throughout the sale process, including marketing of the business, deal negotiation and tax support.

Nick Barker, Corporate Finance Partner, led the team, from Azets Yorkshire who acted for York Pullman, with Karen Sadler, Senior Manager in Tax Advisory, providing the tax support.

They worked closely with Tom James, owner and managing director of York Pullman, as well as a legal team led by Susie Mortonson, Corporate Partner at regional law firm Andrew Jackson.

Tom James will remain with York Pullman and continue to run the business under the same name with support from his existing team and First Bus, which is FirstGroup’s bus division.

The deal was announced in January before being completed following standard regulatory reviews.

Nick Barker said: “It has been a privilege to assist Tom with the sale of York Pullman, which is such a well-known and well-regarded York name.

“Through Tom’s expert guidance it has grown to hold a dominant position as the leading independent bus and coach operator in the local market.

“It was particularly important that we found a partner that shared that same integrity and values that have made the business such a success and I am delighted that in FirstGroup we have found a new owner that is committed to continuing the name and good work of York Pullman.

“As the UK’s largest regional accountancy and specialist business advisor to SMEs, it is always professionally satisfying to help business owners see the years of hard work and commitment rewarded in such a way.

“The successful completion of this transaction marks a new chapter for York Pullman and FirstGroup as well as the transport sector in North Yorkshire.”

Susie Mortonson added: “It has been a pleasure to support and guide Tom and his team on this significant transaction.

“York Pullman is a fantastic business and I wish them every success as the business enters a new chapter as part of FirstGroup."

Tom James said: “I am extremely grateful for the exceptional professional advice and guidance provided by Azets and Andrew Jackson Solicitors throughout the entire process.

“Their support will enable York Pullman to build and grow on its successes as it looks towards an exciting future with FirstGroup.”

York Pullman has more than 130 vehicles and comprises five well-established brands in regional and business-to-business operations in York and North Yorkshire.

These include home-to-school and college contracted services, private hire and local bus routes run on behalf of local councils.

The York Pullman name can be traced back to the 1920s before it was resurrected by Tom James in 2007. Vehicles were painted in the original Pullman livery colours as the company’s brand once again appeared on York’s city streets.

First Bus is the second largest regional bus operator in the UK, serving two-thirds of the country’s 15 largest conurbations with a fleet of more than 4,500 buses, and carrying more than a million passengers a day.

Andrew Jackson Solicitors, established in 1874, has offices in York, Hull, Grimsby and Scarborough.

Azets’ newly published business Barometer for the UK shows that succession planning is increasingly seen by UK companies as a crucial aspect of strategic planning.

Visit https://www.azets.co.uk/azets-barometer for more details.

Exact financial details of the sale were not disclosed.