Stagecoach boss set to step back
Filed under: News
Sir Brian, whose family owns a stake worth £400 million in the transport giant, will take on the role of chairman after deciding to relinquish day-to-day running of the firm he established with just two buses in Perth.
It is now one of the UK's biggest bus, coach and rail operators and a major operator in the United States with a stock market valuation of £1.7 billion.
The switch from chief executive to chairman goes against corporate governance codes but Stagecoach said it was important to retain the 58-year-old's expertise after he is replaced by finance director Martin Griffiths from May.
The boardroom change came as the company reported "good" trading in the 12 weeks to July 22 and said it remains on track to hit full-year targets.
The Perth-born entrepreneur worked as a bus conductor in Glasgow to fund his way through university where he was studying to become a chartered accountant. He persuaded his sister Ann and her husband Robin to buy a bus for school runs and they later bought two coaches with their father's redundancy money, giving birth to Stagecoach, according to Sir Brian's website.
The deregulation of the bus services announced in 1985 paved the way for Stagecoach's expansion, with Sir Brian the master strategist. One of its earliest services was Magicbus, which operated in Glasgow and offered passengers "unbelievably cheap fares" using old London Routemaster buses with conductors.
He led the company down an aggressive acquisition trail that saw it buy National Bus Company operations in Cumberland, Hampshire, East Midlands, Ribble, Southdown and the United Counties.The expansion continued into the 1990s when Stagecoach bought further operations in Scotland, Newcastle, London and Manchester and it floated on the stock market to raise further funds.
The privatisation of the rail network in 1995 provided an opportunity to branch out into trains and Stagecoach became the first private sector company to win a rail franchise when it successfully bid for the UK's biggest rail franchise - South West Trains.
The group reported that underlying revenues at its rail and regional bus businesses in the UK rose 6.8% and 4.1% respectively in its first quarter.