YELLOW Buses is back in local hands after its managers bought the company for an undisclosed sum.

The business – which was sold off by Bournemouth council 14 years ago – has been sold by its French owners to a trio of its directors.

The deal comes with a pledge to invest in staff, buses and systems, and a reassurance that its 410 employees will see their conditions preserved.

Managing director David Squire, commercial director Simon Newport and service delivery director Phil Pannell are now equal shareholders in Bournemouth Transport Limited (BTL).

Each is an industry veteran who is still licensed to drive buses. The trio have 100 years of industry experience between them.

David Squire, who was appointed as managing director of Yellow Buses in 2017, said: “This puts the local management team firmly in the driving seat. We are now masters of our own destiny.

“We remain as BTL and there are no changes to the terms and conditions of our employees or pension schemes. We have injected fresh capital into the company and will be looking to invest in our staff, fleet and systems going forward.

“We are over 18 months into the plan that we started in 2018 and are in a strong place with passenger growth, improved income and a booming coach operation.

“As an independent company we will be quicker, more agile at decision-making and, therefore, better able to react to opportunities as they arise.”

The buyout follows a review by French-owned RATP Dev of its operations in the UK.

RATP, which bought Bournemouth Transport in 2010, will focus on its London franchises and its sightseeing and coach businesses in Bath, London and the North West.

The buyout covers the Yellow Buses and Yellow Coaches brands and also includes Vintage Yellow Buses Limited, an associated non-trading company.

Yellow Buses has a fleet of 140 buses and 16 coaches, carrying just under 15million passengers a year and clocking up nearly 5m miles across Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and East Dorset.

RATP Dev’s chief executive, Laurence Batlle, said: “Under the leadership of David Squire and his team, Bournemouth Transport has undergone major transformation.

“The agreement will ensure the company has local ownership and management. We are delighted that we can enable Bournemouth Transport Ltd and its employees to pursue a promising way forward and wish them every success.”

David Squire joined the bus industry as a traffic trainee in 1978. He has worked for a variety of companies, including 10 years at Arriva in a succession of management jobs, and as commercial director for RATP Dev UK.

Commercial director Simon Newport joined FirstGroup as a management trainee in 1998 and became Yellow Buses’ head of commercial in 2017.

Service delivery director Phil Pannell was engineering director with Abellio, responsible for six garages and around 790 vehicles in London and Surrey. He has had a 41-year career in the industry and joined Bournemouth Transport in 2016.

RATP Dev UK was advised by Osborne Clark in London while the management buyout team worked with Backhouse Jones, specialist transport solicitors, together with Moore and Smalley and Weightmans for legal and financial due diligence.