Tuesday, 30th October 2018





A refreshed management team, blending experience with talent nurtured from within the wider organisation, is now in place at Wrights Group as the relocation of the majority of the company’s divisions from the site in Galgorm to nearby Gracehill nears completion.  

Reporting to Group Managing Director Steven Francey, a team of eight directors have been appointed to drive the business forward in the new environment at the Gracehill campus, acquired last year from Japan Tobacco International (JTI).  

Heading up the Group Business Development & Product Development function is John McLeister, who has covered a variety of roles since joining the company in 1990 and who has, since 2016, been MD of Wrightbus International operations.  

Sam McLaren (UK Sales Director), David Barnett (Business Development Director – UK & Europe) and Nathan Hodge (Business Development Director – Rest of the World) will be key members of John’s team, bringing - between the three of them – more than 60 years of Wrights experience.  

Other functions falling under his remit include Group Head of Purchasing (Gary Blair), Group Head of IT (Gareth McLaughlin), Driveline Engineering (Darren McCormick), and Bodywork Engineering (James McKergan). The Group Business Development & Product Development team will be based in a dedicated building on the Gracehill campus, to be named the Sir William Wright Innovation Centre.  

Brian Maybin, previously Group Director of Engineering and someone who has walked in the footsteps of Sir William for many years, will be taking on the newly created role of Group Technology Director. Hugely experienced and with a CV which most recently includes the development of Wright’s highly successful Micro Hybrid technology, Brian will be responsible for continuing to drive research &  

Development across the group, as well as his role as a Board Member of W-Tech in collaboration with Queens University Belfast.  

Timed-served Wright’s employee David Murdoch will be spearheading the group’s all-important Customcare parts and service support organisation, with quality also coming within his remit. The alignment of both of these key areas will further facilitate the voice of the customer to be heard in the factory.  

Chris Knowles takes over responsibility for all production-related matters in the role of Managing Director of Wrightbus UK & Europe, with Mark Mitchell assuming the equivalent role for Wrightbus International, which involves overseeing operations at the WBI facility in Malaysia.  

Lauren Christie, a qualified solicitor and former Group Head of Legal, takes on the expanded portfolio of Commercial Director with groupwide responsibility for all contractual, compliance and health & safety issues.  

A Chartered Accountant who qualified with PwC, Kirsty McBride is another appointment from within, promoted to the role of Group Finance Director having previously ‘cut her teeth’ in a divisional accounting role under former Group FD Mark Johnston.  

Damian McGarry will be bringing his considerable company-wide experience to bear in the extended role of MD of Systems Integration across the Group. The components businesses of Metallix and Composites, as well as the chassis division En-Drive now comes under his control, as does Nu-Track, the specialist vehicle business that continues to operate at arms-length from the main Wrights Group.  

Five of the eight members of the new-look management team have participated in the Wrights Group High Potential Leadership Development Programme, established two years ago and run in conjunction with the Irish Institute of Management in Dublin.  

 “The revised management team reporting to Steven Francey is an exciting blend of considerable industry experience and emerging talent within the business” said Chairman & CEO Mark Nodder.  

“Wrights Group is a now £227m turnover business and the organisation structure and the people within it will play a key role in driving the business forward in the coming years. John, Chris, Mark, Lauren and Kirsty have all benefited from the groupwide Leadership Programme run in association with the IMI and the professional and personal development that they have gained from this training will help them progress both as individuals and as part of a wider team.”    

The revised group organisation comes into effect as the company nears the successful completion of its relocation to the Gracehill campus, just a mile away from the current Galgorm site in Ballymena.  

The 100-acre facility at Gracehill is the new home to all UK-based Wrights Group activities, with the exception of Metallix and the third-party customer production side of the Wrights Composites business. Both will continue to operate from the Galgorm site, with Nu-Track also moving from its current premises to co-locate.  

Mark Nodder added: “We have been progressively relocating operations this year, with En-Drive first to move onto the Gracehill campus” said Mark Nodder. “We have been moving bus assembly operations on a contract by contract basis and we already have more than 90% of staff transferred across. This process will be complete by the end of year, achieved without any disruption to the business, much to the credit of everyone concerned.”




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