On 12 September 2018 The Kings Ferry Group acquired Stewarts Coach Group Limited, an award winning independent coach business with bases in Reading and Leicester. Stewarts provides corporate travel and private hire services as well as operating an established day tour and holiday programme, incorporating the brands Woods Coaches, Woods Tours and Stewarts Tours. In order to ensure a smooth transition to the new ownership, the existing managing director of Stewarts Coach Group, Andy Cotton stayed with the business to drive business growth opportunities. One year on and Stewarts and Woods are celebrating substantial growth and success.
Managing director of The Kings Ferry Group, Ian Fraser has been delighted with the progress that has been made this year. In response to the first year anniversary he said: “I would like to begin by thanking all the people in both Stewarts and Woods for their fantastic attitude to the new ownership. I can say that the overwhelming impression has been one of open mindedness, cooperation and a brilliant ‘can do’ approach. I have been impressed by everyone I have met.
“Andy kept telling me how good his people were but now we have experienced it first hand, I can say that we didn’t realise just how good they all are.
“Since day one I wanted us to work with our new colleagues in a collaborative and consultative way. Whilst acquiring a new business isn’t always plain sailing, I truly believe that the business as a whole is reaping the rewards of working collaboratively. Together we have made a number of developments in the businesses which has helped drive improvements in a number of key areas including customer satisfaction, revenue, fleet investment, pay and profit.
“I am very proud of the achievements everyone within the business has made and they should all be incredibly proud of themselves. They have played a huge part in the success of the acquisition over the last 12 months.”
The acquisition last year sparked an ambitious strategy focusing on a significant increase in revenue and profits across the Stewarts and Woods brands. A new marketing strategy, which rolled out new product offerings to passengers, as well as developments in key areas of the business, has seen a substantial increase in revenue for FY19 particularly the Woods Holidays Programme, which is on target to hit a 23% year on year increase in revenue.
The fleet investment has certainly benefited Stewarts and Woods. At Woods this first year saw the introduction of the very first Double Deck Coach as well as the start of a new airport service from Stansted Airport to Manchester and Liverpool. The coach fleet has increased from 16 to 25 vehicles and an additional 18 full-time drivers have joined the team. The ongoing increase to the coach fleet will offer a wider choice of vehicles on the tours programme and bring in new business opportunities.
The drivers at Stewarts have certainly been kept busy with a significant increase in the amount of transfers being completed in July 2019 than the previous year. The drivers have been enjoying the variety of different work this year including international travel.
When it comes to employment The Kings Ferry Group has not held back in supporting Stewarts and Woods. As well as several new appointments there has been an increase in opportunities for both employees and workflows. New positions have been created in training and compliance, sales, mechanics and drivers.
Linny Smalley-Ward, general manager at Stewarts said: “There is no doubt that every single person in our team at Stewarts has pushed that little bit harder to ensure we have delivered on each task that has been set, I couldn’t be prouder of everyone and everything that we have achieved.”
Looking ahead the future is bright. With a focus on providing the best drivers, highest safety standards and cutting edge fleet of vehicles, leveraging the increased geographical presence that The Kings Ferry Group can offer will ensure that a higher volume of customers can experience the unrivalled reputation and customer care that both Stewarts and Woods deliver.
As Bill Tanser, general manager at Woods said: “All at Woods are really excited to see what the future holds.”