Protours is saved – as Tours Isle of Man

MANAGEMENT buy-out: From January 1, Protours will become Tours Isle of Man and be run by Roy Lightfoot and John Guilford

MANAGEMENT buy-out: From January 1, Protours will become Tours Isle of Man and be run by Roy Lightfoot and John Guilford

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COACH firm Protours will be rebranded and relaunched on January 1 following a management buy-out.

The company’s managing director Roy Lightfoot and John Guilford, chairman of the company when it was run under its original name Tours Isle of Man, have bought the company’s assets from the previous owner, South African businessman Fred Kinnear.

In July it was announced staff had been given three months’ notice while management took stock to consider whether it was possible to continue due to poor trading conditions.

Mr Lightfoot said: ‘I am absolutely delighted that we were able to work out a way to continue a coach service on the island.’

Since mid-October the number of staff has been reduced from 15 to nine and drivers have been employed on a casual basis.

‘Come January we will start off in a similar vein until we see where the future puts us,’ Mr Lightfoot said.

From January 1, the company will go back to its original name, Tours Isle of Man. Mr Lightfoot said there would be a ‘seamless transition’ between the two companies, with Protours continuing to operate until December 31.

All current contracts will be honoured and new business will be sought in a marketing drive by the rebranded company.

It will continue to operate from its current base in Ballasalla.

Mr Lightfoot said: ‘The company needs to be downsized but I’m sure there’s a future.’

He said it had received support from ‘an awful lot of people’ following July’s announcement and hoped that would continue in the future.

Mr Guilford said: ‘It would be a travesty for the Isle of Man to be left without a coach operator.

‘The Manx people need a worthy alternative to the bus company (Bus Vannin).

‘I am nostalgic about Tours and look forward to a successful future.’

The firm was started in 1971 under the name Tours Isle of Man. It offers on and off-island travel as well as airport and Sea Terminal transfers and coach hire.

Mr Lightfoot has been the managing director since 1993 and has worked for the company since 1978.

In July, he said in the past Protours had done a lot of work for government but had been told the work was going elsewhere.

It led bus chiefs to reject any suggestion government-run Bus Vannin was given preferential treatment over Protours when tendering for school contracts.

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