VIDEO: Coach company on the road to expansion
By David Wood and Mark Owen | 13th March 2023
A Gloucester coach company which is "bursting at the seams" has started work on developing a new £1.8 million coach park in the city.
Bennetts Coaches, which is based on Eastern Avenue, is creating the 15-bay coach park at Triangle Park, off Metz Way, to house its National Express operation. Two units will also be built for the company which will be home to 30 staff, with another two units to be leased or sold.
Work has already started on the digging out and tarmacking of the site and the buildings are due to be completed by the end of the year.
Managing director Gavin Bennett said: "We've already started work on the 15-bay coach park as part of our expansion. We're struggling for space at the moment - we're bursting at the seams pretty much.
"We've got three too many vehicles in our depot at the moment and I need more capacity. Looking to the future we know that the work's there, we know we're growing.
"We bought the land probably four years ago. It took three years to get through planning partly due to Covid, partly due to the city council having a cyber attack and having to submit everything again.
"It was a relief when I saw the diggers go in and start work. It's all dug out already and the tarmac and kerbs are going in. It's a great sign to be on the right track now.
"The investment in the land and buildings when completed will be in the region of £1.8 million."
Bennetts currently has 39 coaches, including 10 National Express coaches, and employs 71 staff but they are looking to take on another seven employees by the end of April and add another three National Express vehicles to their fleet.
Mr Bennett added: "We will be operating the National Express side of it from the new site. We've been partners with National Express for 13 years. We've been their operator of the year five times nationally and we are always in the top two of National Express operators across the whole of the UK so we get many awards for that.
"The only thing we don't deal with National Express is the bookings side of it - that's out of our hands."
Bennetts Coaches provides coaches for school transport, school trips, weddings, days out and corporate events, as well as operating National Express coach services.
Mr Bennett added: "We're not doing too bad to be fair. If we could have more staff and vehicles I would certainly be quite happy and confident to grow. Obviously staffing is the main problem we have but I think everyone is facing the same problem. It's a challenge at the moment.
"A lot of coach and bus drivers went to the HGV industry and they were getting paid very well for what they were doing but I think we're close to matching the HGV pay so we're starting to see some staff coming back into the industry."
He added: "We haven't dropped any runs like another local operator. We took on the park-and-ride service in October when that got dropped by Stagecoach. That was another bit of expansion."
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