FAMILY ties to Kidderminster's famous Whittle bus and coach empire are to be severed after 77 years.

Senior partner Ron Whittle, whose father and two uncles founded the firm in 1926, has "with some sadness" announced he is selling the company to a bigger bus group.

The name of Whittle will continue and the jobs of all 100 full and part-time employees have been assured in the sale to Yorkshire-based EYMS.

Mr Whittle, who was left in charge of the firm on the death of his father in 1970, said there was no family successor in line to take over from him.

"I have been considering for some time how to secure the future of my business. I was anxious to try to make sure the business continued in some form and that my many long-serving employees were properly looked after," he said.

"I am delighted that another family business, albeit much larger than mine, is to take over, especially as it has a track record of good operation and maintaining acquisitions in a recognisable form."

Ron Whittle announced the sale, due to complete on Friday, January 30, to the company's 50 full-time and 50 part-time and casual staff last week. All existing services and holiday bookings will continue as normal," he added.

His longest-serving employee, Les Holford, who has been with the company for 48 years, said he was sad to see the "Whittle family era" end but pleased for Mr Whittle.

"I don't blame him at all. It's better to sort everything out now, in my opinion," said 69-year-old Mr Holford.

Mr Whittle intends to maintain his key lobbying roles with the Confederation of Passenger Transport group and within the International Road Transport Union in Geneva.


Peter Shipp, chairman and chief executive of EYMS, said he was delighted to add Whittle to his group, which, coincidentally, was founded in the same year - 1926 - and also has a strong family base.

The company, currently named WhittleCoach and WhittleHolidays, has a fleet of 49 vehicles and operates a range of holiday and excursion services, as well as running 43 local bus services and school contracts. All will continue as normal.