A Fife bus firm’s five year plan has paid dividends after it drove back into the black.
Newly filed accounts for Moffat and Williamson, show turnover increased by 19.4% from £5.2 million in 2018, to £6.2m for the year ending November 30, 2019.
Pre-tax figures for the period leapt from £176,000 loss in 2018, to £147,000 profit last year.
Director of the family-owned firm, George Devine, said the company was “delighted” with the improved profitability of the business which is based in Newport-on-Tay.
He said: “As reported in last year’s accounts, the company won a number of new contracts which only commenced in August 2018 and as expected, the full impact was seen in the accounts for 2019.
“The increase in the number of routes being serviced saw employee numbers increase by 21.
“An additional 555kms was operated and linked to a review of the whole operation and the renewal of energy contracts, telephone contracts, media supplier and several parts supplier contracts, substantial savings were made in these areas.”
However, Mr Devine pointed to a challenging start to 2020 with “very difficult trading and uncertainty.”
He said: “In lockdown, passenger numbers were 90% down although this has improved to around 45% down, however I feel we will never return to 2019 levels and 30% down on 2019 could be the norm going forward.
“This will be a very challenging year and we will have to continually adapt to suit the situations that develop.
“Two-year and five-year plans are unthinkable and we are now continually reviewing the business on weekly or monthly basis to protect our staff and ensure that our customers who stuck by us receive the service they deserve.”
As the impact of the Covid-19 restrictions began to be felt, the firm had introduced a range of measures including fitting screens, hand sanitiser and hand-wipes to drivers.
Mr Devine said: “We were ahead of the game in many respects and we were also one of the first bus firms in Scotland to offer free transport to NHS staff and they are still receiving free travel by showing their NHS pass.
“Many of the routes we serve are rural and we decided rather that we would continue to operate a full-service instead of cutting schedules.
“This allowed us to have fewer people on the bus to maintain social distancing and we also used larger busses for the same reason.
“Our passengers have stuck by us and we will stick by them.”
The firm went into the pandemic restrictions with 125 staff and Mr Devine said that although some had been placed on furlough, they had received full wages and the company had avoided redundancies.
Mr Devine said: “We are currently operating at around 75% of previous levels and I think this will be the case for the next six months.
“If a vaccine is approved, people will start to get their confidence back and if we get back to 90% in 2021 then we’ll be doing well.”
“It might be a while before people want to go abroad again, so the local market could do well for a year or 18 months until the confidence builds up again and the public starts to gon foreign holidays again, but we will jsut have to gauge it from month to month.”
He paid tribute to the company’s employees for their hard work and flexibility during a challenging period.
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